'Poles of Inspiration'

An explanatory text to the same-named wall sculpture by Stefan Gahr

Life is infinite in each and every aspect.
This has repeatedly appeared to me to be true. The rough draft of 'Poles of Inspiration' derives from this philosophy of infinity.
A vertical loop stretches across the whole picture. The loop's components circulate around two poles. Up, there is the divine pole showing a crowned angel, down, the animal pole with a horned artist.

All things are related to each other.
No social, philosophical or artistic problem can be completely understood. Such complex are the relations that for even the most minor aspect all things have to be taken into consideration. In this way everything is related to each other in my picture. One line is leading to the next, revealing not the slightest idea where it might lead to.

All of life is change.
My picture is bringing manifold figures into being. Some of them seem almost realistic, like my own face or my own hand down on the left. Others, however, are hard to recognize having been alienated through the course of life or - to put it less pathetic - of my interests. Take, for example, the four angel-like figures placed at the left central picture margin. All illustrated components have fascinated me for a while. They evolved, took shape, formed the basis for stories, which, again, were washed away by new stories. My intentions and sentiments have undergone change and so have the components illustrated. 'Observing the river of life and drifting away', I regard as the leitmotif of my 3-months work.

The end is being bounded by our perception.
While creating the picture, one of my main intentions was not to stop drawing lines unless the whole surface was covered with lines. Possibly some parts brighter than others. However, doing so, almost all details would have dissolved in the clutter of lines, which would have served no purpose. The polished stainless steel - the picture's background - finally helped me to conclude my work! Gazing at it, its reflections constantly change. Like this, lines can be interrelated anew time and again. The end is defined by our perception.

Lots of ideas could not be realized, because the net of lines wouldn't allow me to. Repeatedly I tried to centre the infinite loop. Repeatedly the lines were drifting off, drawn to the powerful flow. Luckily, I let go. Most of the time.

The most beautiful moments I witnessed as a silent observer. I often felt proud, directing the engraving machine across the beauteous, shiny black surface, creating shapes no one has ever created before. The creative artist! In solitary union with his masterpiece! Saviour of the world! Thoughts like these come up in artists while creating. Beautiful thoughts they are! I always use to link them with the dream of an open-minded and peaceful world. I don't need assurance. My piece of art is enough of reward. Only a fool will give credit to these thoughts!

Momentary they are, just like my negative thoughts, which are inevitable when I lose myself in my work in order to draw gracious lines. Initially, thoughts - quite bearable - come up. They want to make me question the meaningfulness of the whole project - the meaningfulness of everything. And beyond these thoughts I sense that it won't work out this time. This time I shall not succeed!

It has already become very clear to me that such thoughts are of no relevance. A meaningless coming and going, however, essential. The permanent destruction of my inherently peaceful being and the inebriant phantasies of bliss and omnipotence make for my flow of work. In motion. Sometimes ruffled, sometimes sluggish, another time gloomy, then shimmering. Beautiful, ugly, dull, enlightened. Having come to realize that all these feelings and thoughts are neither debilitating nor annoying, but are an unorganized foundation bringing forth clarity and simplicity, is my most revolutionary act of self-awareness.

My creative and wise ego devotes itself to art while leaving my brain isolated. My brain, in return, does what every brain loves to do: diving into the depths of polarity. Good-bad. Beautiful-ugly. Life turns into a blunt and hierarchically structured system being terrorized by dogmatism, arrogance, power games and violence. My part in this cold and constricted world is flailing around, defending myself aggressively.

Hell, understood in this way, is portrayed in the lower half of the picture. I am placed in the centre. Two horns can be recognized on my head. In my hand I am holding the line of creativity. Me, creator of the universe (of mine)! Along the right margin it says, 'Standing on the edge. Becoming and decaying'. It relates to myself. Life is passing by without me participating, it is even passing by without any significance. The parting thought is very clearly indicated. Though physically impossible, it is bothering us far too much.

There's no up when there's no down. This is another philosophical statement expressed in my picture.
Starting from the pure line of creativity, we are floating anticlockwise upwards, passing through the brutish world. The fact that the animal-like world was meant to be placed at the bottom of the picture can certainly be ascribed to my catholic and western influence.

Anyhow, something is forcing me upwards just in order to graphically explode halfway. The upper left side is directly leading to heaven. Before actually getting there, we read, 'In anticipation of resurrection'. And there she is, the crowned angel! Noble and utterly unaffected. Enjoying the glamour of life sparkling over her. Interestingly, this angel figure emerged from my very first lines. She cannot be regarded as arrogant. She had already been here when everything around came into being, and she did not change in the course of my work. Her garment was adorned, her wing elaborated such that it literally merged with the picture. But she has always been this way and would not allow me to alter her, regardless of 3 months of attempted rapprochement. That is why she remained that schematic. 'She' - as I use to refer to the angel figure - is actually not disconnected from me. The angel simply symbolizes the divine pole. And 'me', I am nothing less than inspiration in the play of life, of art or however one would like to call it.

Until lately I thought myself of being 'polar'. No matter what topic, I used to sympathize with two divergent views. Until I realized that I stopped having an opinion at all; that things were too complex to be understood at all. I feared to burn out or to get lost in a world of definite viewpoints. But these fears fortunately vanished soon. To have a clear opinion in an infinite world means to not see the forest while standing too close to one tree.

The idea that there is no need to understand, because it's not understandable gives us new freedom in interpreting the picture. The lose components of the picture placed outside the loop are also part of the eternal cycle of inspiration into which life has turned; are part of something that is under constant change. Take, for instance, the crystalline, crackling objects which I believe to find on the right picture margin: I regard them as parts of the soul that have left the cycle of life. They are sinking to the bottom, gracefully spreading their energy, and all their components taking an individual path. Like this, they remain part of these wonderful phenomena, which have given me so much pleasure in the course of engraving. To regard the picture as completed and fixed would miss my point. No! This would be too simple! Even though it initially appears as a snapshot in time, it is still flexible and changes from one moment to the next. It is circulating around the two poles activating our inspiration. An infinite number of factors play their part, and all of a sudden beauty arises.

(Link to the wall object 'Poles of Inspiration')

(Text translated by Franziska Zippusch)