Ewerdt Hilgemann

(Germany) *1938 in Witten

The steel “implosions” by the artist Ewerdt Hilgemann, who lives in Holland, are not only prominently represented in exhibitions and collections, but are also to be seen in the public open space all over the world. In 2014, seven of his monumental group sculptures lined Park Avenue in New York, in a widely acclaimed exhibition. After his studies under Oskar Holweck, Hilgemann worked for a long time with wood, steel and marble. From the start, a central element of his work has been the capturing of light by his abstract geometrical creations. Since 1984 Hilgemann has developed ever new variations of his unmistakeable stainless steel cubes, from which he sucks out the air with a vacuum pump. In “Blickachsen 11”, the artist, who readily describes himself as an “air blacksmith”, is represented both in Bad Homburg and in Frankfurt. His work “Three Equal Volumes”, made for the exhibition in Bad Homburg, consists of three variously proportioned cuboid shapes, each with an identical holding capacity. Through the extraction of air, the hard strength of the shiny steel is transformed into expressive soft forms, which gently reflect their surroundings in the Kurpark.

Towering high in the Campus Westend of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, the artist Ewerdt Hilgemann’s brightly shining stainless steel columns can be seen from afar. Their smooth, softly polished surfaces contrast with the buckled shapes of these collapsed ‘implosions’. At the same time, their striking form relieves the sculptures of a rigid four-sidedness, making them appear all the more alive. In Frankfurt, the “Threesome” trio with their varying heights, and the three “Giants” formed of identical pieces, frame the clear geometric structure of the Poelzig building, designed in the 1920’s. Whereas here the vertical lines optically stretch and structure the architecture, Ewerdt Hilgemann’s works seem to have been weakened by an external force. The artist creates the individual deformations in the rectangular cubes by sucking the air out of their airtight hollow stainless steel bodies with a vacuum pump. The ambivalence of the monumental sculptures appearing to be life-like precisely because the air has been sucked out of them is described as follows by Hilgemann: “I take the air out and in the process breathe life in”.