Devotional objects are fascinating things. In contrast to utilitarian utensils, their appearance does not allow onlookers to draw conclusions as regards their immediate use value. Their worldly characteristics invariably also point to a sublime level of meaning, and this poses a problem for those wanting to interpret beyond a shade of doubt the settings in which they were originally used – for example when such items are recovered by later generations as archeological artifacts. For the exhibition Molecules of a Central Soul artist Tina Kohlmann has created new sculptural works that operate in the grey area between culture-historical and present-day symbolism.

Zoomorphic divine beings form the central point of reference for the new series, most notably snakelike creatures as may be found in the mythologies of the most diverse of world religions. Kohlmann’s interpretation remains playful throughout: She turns the animal hybrids into tube lights set in monolith-like sockets of carved stone. The use of fluorescent materials emphasizes the auratic and ephemeral characteristics of the art works, but also the solid physicality of the supporting figures made of stone. At the same time her creative choice of materials, combining stoneware with its monumental lifespan with the attached hair pieces, appears like an almost anachronistic gesture. The objects on view are rooted in a spiritual tradition reaching back several millennia, yet at the same time reveal their absolutely contemporary nature at first glance.

Kohlmann sees no discrepancy in positioning her works between tradition and the world of today, high and low culture, nature and artifact. It is through this ambivalence that her characters gain a transcendental life of their own and the power to function as artistic cult objects.

(Dierk Höhne)