burned clay, Stone/wood pedestal,
Height of the figures: app. 15cm,
height of the pedestal: between 30 and 60cm
In her most recent works from the years 2008/2009, IDOLS, Annette Streyl plays on the beauty ideal of medieval art and in the process creates a link to her earlier knitted and stone works. The small replicas worked in clay and based on Tilman Riemenschneider have been set on steep, step-like bases. A knitted “fan-scarf” hangs above them like a monumental baldachin, architecturally “framing” the delicate busts. Riemenschneider’s figures of Saint Philippus, Kaiphas, Maria Magdalena, the knight Konrad and also the sculpture of the celebrated Uta von Naumburg, who for her part was considered the symbol of perfect beauty, thus become modern saints. Streyl does not aim to break with the medieval beauty ideals or take an ironic perspective on them, however she does by all means take a very personal approach to the process of replication and refinement. The real transformation takes place when the conflicting materials clay, stone and knitting are combined. By firing the clay for a long time the artist gives the figures an unusually dark, stone-like patina that contrasts with the light material of the pedestal, creating a new relationship between the sculpture and its base. This combination of perfect portrait busts and reduced, functional, stepped pedestals – which are almost actual sculptures in themselves – is astounding. Here, the artist not only makes reference to Riemenschneider with her architectural stone tablets but also to herself. The contemporary niche sculpture in the form of a knitted scarf also draws on a technique that she frequently applies, however with a completely different impetus. The timeless “beautiful and great” are suddenly transformed into contemporary pop- or sports stars and become the subjects of a completely new form of admiration.
In another series of works, Annette Streyl photographed her own replicas from below, at an extreme angle, and then made copies of these images in clay. In the process, the respective viewing angles were distorted to such an extent that the visage of the saint shifted to form a large mask. In a similar way to Streyl’s architectural models made in stone, this once again challenges our viewing perspective and the way we perceive the space, while at the same time making the artistic accomplishment of the Renaissance, the shortening of the perspective, something that can also be experienced today.
Sabrina van der Ley/Petra Roettig