Text About Hein Spellmann

Dr. Stephan Trescher

Hein Spellmann's works are based on photographs from architecture. They assume a quasi sculptural shape, and this in most cases is in contrast from the mass produced flat photographs that have been the norm over the last 10 years. The rectangles of the photograph arch towards us; it curves from all four sides, whilst its corners turn towards the wall. It is as though someone has literally blown up the architectural view. Understanding the work and its definition is very "slippery" as its characterization is a cross between picture and sculpture. The form has a similarity to soft cushions; it is shaped in an organic roundness and seems soft. Actually Spellmann's pictures are stretched over a wooden core which is padded with foam. Its surface is sealed with glossy transparent silicon that reflects and, as it appears like wet varnish, also rejects.

From the first look, the motifs do not seem to fit to the form, nor its surface construction, which is composed of cut-outs of facades, mostly openings through windows or doorways or, at least niche-like recesses. Altogether they are outer hulls, enclosures, exteriors, but with the suggested possibility of entering the inside - pictures holding a balance between rejection and invitation. Beyond this the selected architectural details lend the picture-object still more deep space, or give a reason for its three dimensional expansion (even when, in a few cases, there is a possibility to really see inside, curtains, paintings, shadows, or reflections mean the interior remains imaginary).

The all-round roundness of Spellmann's cushioned pictures gives them a closed form. Therefore the shape is always perceived as an independent unit, despite cutting up the photograph. This autonomy of the picture-object is remarkable when Hein Spellmann takes apart a whole Plattenbau into single equally sized elements, and illustrates the recurrence of modularity of this type of construction. It is not about him criticising out of control modern architecture, even though from the endless lines of colourless window sections there follows an almost physical feeling of loneliness and wasteland. Rather, he shows with this a structural relationship between the serial process of industrial housing, and the rationality and serialisation of minimalist sculptures which Hein Spellmann simultaneously quotes and ironically breaks. He does this by enriching his uniform objects with a lot of reality, and through individual variations, brings them to life. In this regard (and not only the question of its generic affiliation) they have the true character of a hybrid.

Working in modules makes it theoretically possible for the artist to copy objects endlessly and to have changing constellations of arrangements (refer to the presentation of Magdeburg I in Wendlingen). Especially in the series of strongly aligned horizontals a further association can be made, corresponding with the moveability of the modules: the similarity with trains and their lined up carriages, trams or cable cars. Above all, one concentrates again on the single element, such as the streamlined caravans of the '50s. They become vehicles or more exactly mobile homes. More than the fleeting, constant motion of the modern human being, they speak of the isolation of the city’s inhabitants: every rounded living space, a single cell.

In his latest works, Hein Spellmann is moving away from to much tristesse. His picture-objects form themselves more and more into groups.  From strictly composed series such as Düsseldorf  or Intercontinental, to loosely added ensembles such as Neue Heimat, or  rhythmical spatial variations such as Blue Openings, or even a film type narrative sequence such as Staircase Strip. Also the colours are no longer marked with nostalgic paleness, run-down brown stone or washed out grey concrete: red walls, blue doors and sharp greens from behind windows come into view. In the work Blue Opening 1 we can see varied constructivist arrangements of windows covered in blue with blue rear walls supported by whitened foundations with white framed spaces, a tendency towards abstractionism not seen before. This is so dominant that the roots of its architectural being could almost be forgotten. Hein Spellmann sets in motion a measurement of proportions and also simultaneously creates, within the ensemble on the wall, a sudden illusionary depth of scaling, a new space. We are entering new space.

Text from: Hein Spellmann, Galerie Stefan Rasche, Münster; UBR Galerie, Salzburg; Galleri Thomassen, Göteborg, 2005