Saturday, September 24, 2016


Was bleibet aber, stiften die Dichter.  And poets establish / that which endures.

So do artists such as Alexander Polzin, who uses this quote from the Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin for the title of a new exhibition, running until Nov. 5 at Galerie Kornfeld in Berlin, Germany.

The show follows the inauguration of a poignant sculpture that Polzin erected in Paris earlier this year – in honour of the German Jewish poet Paul Celan, who lived and died in France after escaping the horrors of World War II, in which his parents were killed.

German artist Alexander Polzin
Polzin said he had dreamt for 17 years of creating a monument in memory of Celan, to be placed in the latter’s adopted city of Paris, and that dream became a reality in May when the sculpture Hommage à Paul Celan was unveiled during a ceremony at the city’s Anne Frank Garden.

To celebrate Polzin's Hommage, Galerie Kornfeld is now showing a selection of the artist’s sculptures, paintings and works on paper, all of which explore the art of poetry and its authors.

“This intensive exploration of literary and philosophical texts and ideas forms the essence of Alexander Polzin’s work,” the Gallery says. “The artist has close personal and intellectual ties with many writers, philosophers and scientists.”

In addition to the draft for Monument for Paul Celan, the exhibition assembles works inspired by the words and personalities of writers as varied as Dante Alighieri, Giordano Bruno, Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller and Thomas Brasch.

Although the human figure is at the centre of his sculptural work, Polzin is not interested in a “portrait-like reproduction of people” but is mostly concerned “with the ideas that take shape in his art”, the Gallery adds.

Maquette section: Monument to Paul Celan,
by artist Alexander Polzin
Central themes concern moral, social and societal questions.  During a well-attended talk in Paris (organized by the Arts Arena and held at the city’s branch of Columbia Global Centers), Polzin told listeners that he very consciously seeks out the public space as a stage, where art can create dialogue and a different way of thinking.

In an interview after his presentation, he said that the artist has certain responsibilities, which for him are of paramount importance.

“I feel responsibility for the past and for the future, because I want to help to make sure that some things never happen again,” Polzin said. “I don’t consider myself an activist, yet everything I do is political. But that’s automatic.

“I think that if you do your work as an artist, in a way that’s truthful to yourself and to your art, then it comes automatically that you’re doing something for the good of society. Just like a baker needs to make good bread,” he continued.

Polzin's Hommage monument in Paris.
Born in East Berlin, Polzin trained as a stonemason in his youth. While sculpture remains his primary means of expression, his work includes paintings, drawings, graphics, and directorial projects.

In addition to the Hommage à Paul Celan artwork in the Anne Frank Garden and the sculpture The Pair in the foyer of Paris’ Opéra National de la Bastille, the public can see his striking Giordano Bruno monument on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, and the sculpture Socrates on the campus of Tel Aviv University.

Polzin’s works have also been exhibited in international galleries and museums, such as the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Anna Achmatova Museum in St. Petersburg, the Kunstmuseum Ahrenshoop and, most recently, in the museums of the Vatican in Rome, the Gallery says. - Tasshon