Düren Werner Stürenburg Original Fine Art Originalkunst, Oeuvre Werkschau joe
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On the meaning of the woodcut
Speech Düren 01-23-1983, opening exhibition Leopold-Hoesch Museum

Dear mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Dr. Eimert, dear friends!

At first I like to introduce you to the musicians, as contrary to the announcement, you will have noticed it, Erhard Hirt, guitars, and Jochen Twelker, percussion, from Münster play improvised music.

I am proud and thankful, that I can present my pictures in this house, and I hope that you will have had some time to have a look already. Maybe you have asked yourself, too, what the painter might have thought while doing that. I want to say something in this direction and relate to the woodcut of the invitation, that you all know, maybe holding it in your hands now.

As usual, and this is sometimes uncomprehensible for other people, I have thought nothing at all at work. I cut the wood block, started drawing, rarely corrected, was content with the drawing and began to cut. I liked the proof prints too, and that' what it was for me. I am very grateful to Ms. Köhler from the Museum that she urged me to explain what this print does mean, at least she had had some ideas* about it. Hence I described the picture, and consequently an interpretation appeared.

I describe now in the sequence of creation. In the middle sits a naked, mature woman totally calmly, no magazine beauty, she rests within herself, introspecting, completely in harmony with herself, introverted. She is conscious of the scene around her.

The black man in his uniform, on the other hand, seems to perceive nothing, is rigid, stiff, his feet are naked, the hands chained, the mouth distorted, the eyes covered by big black glasses. In particular he seems not to notice that he is bound to the white man, being naked too, having devil-like traits, being very vital, even loaded with tension, holding his inconvenient position with ease, possibly practising gymnastics. The white one seems to speak, pointing upwards with his finger.

A cow lies at right, facing the beholder, being in the now and here as animals do. Her head is adorned, surrounded by a large glory. Then there is some staffage that I don't want to say anything about here.

After the description an interpretation came to mind. Of course, it is not exhaustive - it is an open question whether pictures can be given by words at all. In any case, it seems to me that it does no harm to the picture.

I begin with the black man having obviously problems. In particular the bondage is mysterious, well, it occurs to me that they are not two persons at all but one: the white man is a part of the black, namely the so called malicious, i.e. the non conscious, suppressed, repressed, part, named the shadow in psychologic terminology. Interestingly, he is not black but white, does not seem to be malignant, rather simply lively.

To me, this seems to be the key: the black is in this devilish situation just because the other part that he is bound to, that he cannot escape, is repressed. The woman does not have these problems, appears to be integrated, as this feeling of torment and distraction is generally attributed rather to men.

The cow shows the solution of the conflict as a metaphor: she is a holy cow, a synthesis of holy and animal elements as symbol for the path we as men all have to go: to accept the spiritual and animal sides, the good and the malicious ones and to integrate them.

Hence the picture shows the problem on the left side, the solution on the right. Now this came to me extremely surprisingly and made me happy, because as I said I did not aim at anything not to speak of something like that. I could not even invent or illustrate that. Now I don't believe that the effect of pictures depends on their analysis although this might give a better understanding. Myself, I am mostly content with the mere onlooking and way too lazy to think about it too.

Nevertheless I knew for long that the pictures say something to the problem of development, that the way to becoming a man is depicted. As I am just another person not differently from other people there will be some that are touched and moved by these pictures like me, and in this sense I wish you joy, delight and enrichment. I thank you.

* She put 1200 copies into envelopes at chrismas time. So she associated the holy scene. But there were some questions: Where was Jesus? Why was Maria naked? Why was the glory attached to the cow? Why was Joseph chained?

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