Notes on Anke’s exhibition

In zen every gesture is part of a ritual in which concentration is essential. Each movement should be reduced to its purest expression, I say pure because it is not only a question of simplicity; a great variety of cultural and religious elements intervene to make each gesture express a profound respect towards the others, towards the dojo ( the meditation room) and towards every object, touched or seen. The idea is to express this sparsely, with economy, helping each to respect the other. Sounds form part of this ritual, they guide it and mark the lines leading to its eventual climax. Each gesture is a surrender of the ego.

Silent concentration, efficient.

One of the elements used is the zagu, a square piece of cloth which is placed on the floor to avoid getting the kesa (the robe worn by monks) dirty. The zagu has many symbolic and ritual functions. When placing the zagu on the floor it is folded in such a way as to make a white cross, one of Anke’s creations, number 13, resembles this same shape.  

The zagu, the kesa, and the rakusu (a square cloth with straps having the same function as a small kesa) are sewn by oneself. Even before getting to know zen, Anke showed interest in fabrics, sewing (her screens), and for the orthogonal shapes which she later found when making her kesa and rakusu...One must draw while sewing, rice fields on a black background...This was a rediscovering of these shapes but with a new symbolic perspective.

...Zen has no particular shape or colour, it can be expressed in many ways. In recent times the phrase “sin ton ni son” (without sound or tone) has been coined as a supposedly zen attitude in the face of things, this is an abuse, while it is true that religiosity such as that found in the Japanese culture are impregnated with zen and that certain characteristics of Japanese art evoke the essential concentration that is the root of zazen. Among these characteristics a certain poverty, simplicity and intensity of gesture stand out, as well as interiorization. It is essential to undress all the acquired knowledge, leaving the gesture to flow without looking for anything in particular. I believe that Anke’s work looks for a way of coming close to what we understand as zen.

The shape of the creations reminds one of the dojo. In the dojo one always walks in straight lines and turns are made in corners at right angles. Each movement should search out a natural elegance, without being artificial, turning from rigidity as “casual”, turning from complacency, erasing oneself to leave no trace, turning from formalism; showing the wound, the wound that we all carry, but showing it without drama, without sentimentality, without emphasis. There is no exhibitionism; nothing should cheat the spirit...

....This aesthetic nudity has an ally in the light, it is light that should communicate the feeling of these simple shapes and give them a voice. Colour should call us toward them, absorbing us or reflecting brilliance. The greys of smoke and darkness. The golden ochre of late afternoon and of the sunset. Reds and intense blues....

...Colour is manifest in light. It is light which gives intensity to the creations. Light is shed vertically, from top to bottom. Columns of light, chimneys of light, spaces that cut the darkness and create a path...celestial light....

The hardest battle for all artists lies in simplicity, not forcing things on to the creation, not dressing it in false clothing, while not letting this silence their work, their necessity for expression should find a way of speaking though they may not know what they are saying. Simplicity, at one and the same time the delicacy of the silken paper gives a sumptuous and yet poor character to the work. They are still simply pieces of glued paper while being converted into something precious, fragile, full of light, like small jewels, like transparent seaweed that, when seen in the sea, are full of light, but when taken out and dried are transformed into something faded, dark and crinkled.

According to tradition the first kesa was made by Buda from pieces of dirty cloth, those pieces so contaminated, so impure, that nobody else wanted. He dyed them ochre, he sewed them and with them he made the finest of clothes, the most precious. Anke has also taken the most vulgar of papers, of all colours, cut them and given them shape, and made these creations in an attempt to convert them into something precious, something beautiful and true.

...Without a residue of shadow however, it is impossible to make colour reverberate, that is why shadows cross and intertwine making grey areas, tears, rips through which fear looks. This is how these shapes, in principle immobile, have an interior movement; contained, subtle, revealed when one remains still and attentively contemplates.

Jorge Pardo. 2002

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