The hole life

René Luckhardt by Lucian Spatariu. 2013 Autocenter

Looking for his personal wonderland, or probably working on creating it, the German artist René Luckhardt introduces us to the Kellerloch, that is the cellar hole, the place from which he gets inspiration for his art, the dark door to his wonderland. His current exhibition, Kellerloch paintings, shows us portraits of people with no eyes, no light, even no time and perhaps with no hope? As hermetic as one of his projects, Der hermetische Raum / The hermetic space, created along with other artists, his work seems to express society as a jail from which no one can escape except if one is able to find his own Kellerloch. Obsession or deliverance, or probably both, the result is deeply disturbing.

Your current exhibition is a retrospective under the title Kellerloch paintings. Why are you so interested in the underground? Is it a criticism of the superficial?

It is not so much the underground I am interested in, it is the Kellerloch. To me underground today is shaped by nostalgia, a vintage style conception, and as far as I can recall by looking back on the years I worked together with other artists and curators, the term wasn't of any importance in any collaboration. But Kellerloch (lit. cellar hole) is a period or state most artists will know. It's timeless like the cave paintings of Lascaux or Mickey Mouse. And it's inspiring and fruitful. Look at all these grannies, traditional costumes and pentimenti-scars on my paintings ... Kellerloch is the place where the chance to meet somebody else is low, but the chance to yield a hoard is really high – like the Treasure Island or Gauguin's Tahiti. In fact, Kellerloch is my Tahiti; or rather my Haiti, for I love to approach things from the left side.

The people on your paintings have no sparkle in their eyes. How far your view of the underground world is influenced by your inner world?

Good question ... I would prefer not to … Ok, maybe this helps: I was born in Marburg and brought up in the county of Hessia, not far from the Schwalm (typical region of Hessia) and the deep forest of the Kellerwald. In this region you find the most picturesque traditional costumes. And the Grimm Brothers collected a lot of their famous stories. That is definitely one of the important influences on my inner world as well as on my paintings.

In October/November there will be an exhibition including depictions of the specific Hessian landscape and traditional costumes at Wonderloch Kellerland Berlin.

What’s  Der hermetische Raum / The hermetic space ?

The Hermetic Space works like a transformation device, like the tomb of a Pharao, the ISS or the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. In this sense, it can be described as an antechamber. As the examples show, it is not easily accessible, but highly idiosyncratic and magic. It could be a human being, too. It depends on what you make of it yourself. In our Manifesto on, Andreas L. Hofbauer and I stated that it is the world according to ...  And one could say, although it has always existed, it is the answer to the pop of the consumer industry which nowadays includes the arts.

The Hermetic Space is also the title of a series of exhibitions. The next opening will be on the 14th September during the abc art fair in Berlin and include works by Heike Kelter, Berthold Reiß, the enigmatic F.L.H. and Bo Yin Ra.

Cellar holes, hermetic space ... It seems your Wonderland can only be found from darkness, or is it the darkness itself?

Is there a Wonderland that can be found without a “dark” passage?

Do you think Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is the creation of an alternative world or a portrait of reality?

This book is so wonderful – how would it be possible to enjoy the least of it, if it was just an alternative or a portrait? Indeed, it is a hermetic classic. The book came out of Lewis Carroll and now out of the book has come Lewis Carroll.

What’s the meaning of reality for you?

Reality? – Hermetic space, obviously.

And the meaning of dreams?

Same thing, more or less.

As you know to consider darkness as the absence of light is just an optical effect. Are that kind of contradictions between reality and our perception of it a source of inspiration for your art?

In his Book of Lies Aleister Crowley wrote: “Yet by forcing the brain to accept propositions of which one set is absurdity, the other truism, a new function of the brain is established.” It is a philosophical point of view and yet practical advice. But I am a painter. First of all, I am concerned with colour, shape, light and texture.

René Luckhardt | Kellerloch paintings. Exhibition here

Exhibition at Autocenter Space for Contemporary Art in Berlin
Until 7th September

An interview by Juan Carlos Romero
Photo by Lucian Spatariu
Courtesy of René Luckhardt
René Luckhardt website
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