Alexander Esters: LÜG DU SAU!

LÜG DU SAU! 2009

The coloured austerity of Alexander Ester’s sculptures (born in 1977) is foreshadowed by a colourful world: occupied primarily by large-format canvases, comprising many coloured spaces, abstract forms which coalesce into meaningful or ironic figures. His titles direct us along fantastical paths to the narratives which lie behind them.
In common with several modern artists before him, for example the pioneering work of a Matisse or Picasso, this artist spent many years been working with the lino-cut technique. Having initially studied philosophy and the graphic arts, Esters systematically discovered and perfected “his” technique to achieve the desired quality – refreshing images of singular intensity. Ultimately adjudging linoleum too brittle a material, he turned to PVC, which is easier to cut, larger in format and provides a greater variety of expression. His imaginary pictorial worlds are constructed from painted fragments, which he draws, cuts out and prints onto the canvas. A dynamic modus operandi, which focuses the emphasis not, for example, on the naturalistic representation of people or perspectives, but on the configuration, proportions and colour composition, as dictated by content and meaning. All elements of a picture are assembled to form a structured unit. Soft facial features, an elegant posture and an opulent representation of the perspective are rooted in the bizarre background.
Magical and enchanting, these pictures defy straightforward interpretation. Trails of colour jostle and vie with each other, as if straining to break through to the third dimension. Stroke for stroke, diagonal or parallel lines interact playfully, teasing the eyes of the viewers, who glimpse one or the other intimation of an imaginary space. Herein lies the simplicity of this work: nothing is immutable or permanent. A myriad of motifs can be discerned: faces, a machine, a tree, a house; some art-historical allusions provocatively or enigmatically recall Polke, Tatlin, Guston or Goller. And flowing through the gaps between the elements are the winds of understanding and knowledge. Thus meanings are left hovering, still participants in a game no one can win. Now we are confronted with sculptures, which have broken free from Ester’s purely pictorial world, liberated from their two-dimensionality. Here they continue their relentless struggle to retain their cryptic quality and confront the reality surrounding us: Im Ohr des Betrachters (In the Ear of the Beholder) is their title, Hässlicher Verlierer (Ugly Loser) they mock, Blödkopf (Idiot) they curse, or bark out the command: Lüg du Sau! (Lie You Pig!).
The sculpture in the Skulpturenpark Köln belongs to the so-called “magic-mirror” group of works. Esters uses the attribute of the magic mirror as a synonym for the radio, TV, computer and the Internet. At a height of almost four metres, this carved sculpture is standing in an open space. The lead-glazed screen, framed darkly within a painted oval, exudes an eerie countenance, like an enthroned spirit: profiles of mythological animal heads adorn the top, anchored below by aggressively splayed claws. The title: LÜG DU SAU!
Who is commanding whom? The sculpture the viewer? Or vice versa? Or is the artist himself giving the orders? With this work, the artist seems, on the one hand, to be withdrawing from his vibrant pictorial world. Yet at the same time, he conceals his work behind the titles, challenging the viewer to divine meaning himself, to confidently reveal it or vainly enquire. The magic mirror alternates from one meaning to the next and purports to hold some secret knowledge.
For these “figures” have retained something: an ulterior motive, perhaps also the desire to provoke or attract attention. They are craving for a viewer to play with them: to succumb to their ploys, or marshall all his resources – anger, lies, deceit – to disenchant them. And if he injures himself in the process: apply a plaster!

The coloured austerity of Alexander Ester’s sculptures (born in 1977) is foreshadowed by a colourful world: occupied primarily by large-format canvases, comprising many coloured spaces, abstract forms which coalesce into meaningful or ironic figures. His titles direct us along fantastical paths to the narratives which lie behind them.
In common with several modern artists before him, for example the pioneering work of a Matisse or Picasso, this artist spent many years been working with the lino-cut technique. Having initially studied philosophy and the graphic arts, Esters systematically discovered and perfected “his” technique to achieve the desired quality – refreshing images of singular intensity. Ultimately adjudging linoleum too brittle a material, he turned to PVC, which is easier to cut, larger in format and provides a greater variety of expression. His imaginary pictorial worlds are constructed from painted fragments, which he draws, cuts out and prints onto the canvas. A dynamic modus operandi, which focuses the emphasis not, for example, on the naturalistic representation of people or perspectives, but on the configuration, proportions and colour composition, as dictated by content and meaning. All elements of a picture are assembled to form a structured unit. Soft facial features, an elegant posture and an opulent representation of the perspective are rooted in the bizarre background.
Magical and enchanting, these pictures defy straightforward interpretation. Trails of colour jostle and vie with each other, as if straining to break through to the third dimension. Stroke for stroke, diagonal or parallel lines interact playfully, teasing the eyes of the viewers, who glimpse one or the other intimation of an imaginary space. Herein lies the simplicity of this work: nothing is immutable or permanent. A myriad of motifs can be discerned: faces, a machine, a tree, a house; some art-historical allusions provocatively or enigmatically recall Polke, Tatlin, Guston or Goller. And flowing through the gaps between the elements are the winds of understanding and knowledge. Thus meanings are left hovering, still participants in a game no one can win. Now we are confronted with sculptures, which have broken free from Ester’s purely pictorial world, liberated from their two-dimensionality. Here they continue their relentless struggle to retain their cryptic quality and confront the reality surrounding us: Im Ohr des Betrachters (In the Ear of the Beholder) is their title, Hässlicher Verlierer (Ugly Loser) they mock, Blödkopf (Idiot) they curse, or bark out the command: Lüg du Sau! (Lie You Pig!).
The sculpture in the Skulpturenpark Köln belongs to the so-called “magic-mirror” group of works. Esters uses the attribute of the magic mirror as a synonym for the radio, TV, computer and the Internet. At a height of almost four metres, this carved sculpture is standing in an open space. The lead-glazed screen, framed darkly within a painted oval, exudes an eerie countenance, like an enthroned spirit: profiles of mythological animal heads adorn the top, anchored below by aggressively splayed claws. The title: LÜG DU SAU!
Who is commanding whom? The sculpture the viewer? Or vice versa? Or is the artist himself giving the orders? With this work, the artist seems, on the one hand, to be withdrawing from his vibrant pictorial world. Yet at the same time, he conceals his work behind the titles, challenging the viewer to divine meaning himself, to confidently reveal it or vainly enquire. The magic mirror alternates from one meaning to the next and purports to hold some secret knowledge.
For these “figures” have retained something: an ulterior motive, perhaps also the desire to provoke or attract attention. They are craving for a viewer to play with them: to succumb to their ploys, or marshall all his resources – anger, lies, deceit – to disenchant them. And if he injures himself in the process: apply a plaster!


Friedhelm Mennekes