The Drawers - Karl Heinz Boyke   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Abstract (B&W)

Formalist and secure in craft, Boyke's work speaks within itself and to itself, communicating similarities between the individual sculptures as well as unique traits. With a hieroglyphic distinction, his language is best understood by the initiated. What appears to be privileged visual information is unravelled when the key to the source of the imagery is made clear. Closer inspection - and illumination by the artist for it is doubtful that the impressions would be read as such without direction - reveals that a horseshoe, a saw blade, the grip of a tool and other utilitarian items have been pressed into the original bed from which the bronze mould was made. The formation of the final bronze, from the first material (clay, wax or plasticine) is made by passing through a stage where a mould is made in which to pour the molten metal. Boyke, with a clear and curious eye, has been known to consider this passageway from positive through negative to resulting positive as worthy of notice. He has transformed the negative into the positive which would mean that a second negative must have been made. The relief, Fries in Pompeii, is an example of such a transformation. It is a perfect example of how imbedded Karl Heinz Boyke is in the process of making sculptures.

The 'associations' that can be made to the works are more universal, however, and hence accessible. Both the relief work and the sculpture - even the triangular formats of the paintings - suggest archaeological findings and treasures from civilizations that have come and gone. The round formats are similar to weathered coins while the rectangular are like tomes. The sculptures bring to mind time-worn religious or fetish icons while the large public sculptures make reference to the grand statuary or ceremonial furniture of churches and temples. The triangular paintings could be embellishments above a portal leading into a sacred space. The use of gold leaf furthers the associations to the spirit realms and lends a symbolic aura to the work, just as the Egyptian pictographs conventionalized pictures of the things that they represented.

And yet, there is a more common pulse that runs through Boyke's diverse techniques, a human response to the sentiment of the work as the knobbly bulbs, pokes and nipples distributed through the vertical columns are easily associated with the figure. These bronze sculptures have a warmth and personality that belies the hard metal for they have been handled, from the initial moulding to the final rubbing of the wax on the patina. They invite a caress or a heft to test their weight and confirm their character. Like an interesting guest, they reveal themselves over time with a myriad of fresh angles for interest.

Copyright 2007,  Julie Oakes