The work of Georg Herold has been of international importance for nearly three decades. Rejecting traditional materials, Herold creates sculptures, assemblages and wall-based ‘drawings’ using bricks, baking powder, wood, vodka bottles, buttons and mattresses. This has been linked to Arte Povera although any influence the movement has had upon him is likely to have filtered through the work of Joseph Beuys. Often political, his work engages with socio-cultural issues and art history yet denies any simple reading: ‘I intend to reach a state that is ambiguous and allows all sorts of interpretations.’
Herold often assimilates a concern for the issues of the day, from the worlds of politics, art, and science, with his sardonic wit. In 1982 he made an untitled drawing of a map of the world adding a brief handwritten definition to each country: United States, ‘Criminals’; Germany, ‘Nothing Seen, Nothing Heard’; France, ‘Know Everything’; Russia, ‘Nothing Learned’. Herold has also responded with humour to technological development. In his exhibition compu.comp. virtual visualities equivacs bitmapdys 1995, the artist mimicked computer drawing software by making a number of wall-based works using Mylar mirrors and hundreds of small blocks of wood. These were joined together to create elaborate twisting forms that protruded into the gallery like a line drawing in space. Each block represented a computer pixel, mocking contemporary computers’ inability to draw smooth curving lines. The work also alludes to the processes of art making and to techno-savvy sculptors who use 3D modelling packages.
Titles and the incorporation of text are also important to Herold, as demonstrated by the world map. In Russische Schweiz (Russian Switzerland), included in the exhibition, Herold has constructed a frame of the kind typically used to support a canvas. Yet instead of this the frame contains a web of wire on which are placed wooden strips bearing Cyrillic inscriptions. The opposition of the text and the missing canvas, emphasised by the work’s title (printed at the top of the frame), suggest a sense of displacement and exile. Herold’s intense reaction to the subject undoubtedly stems from personal experience; he was imprisoned for an escape attempt by the East German government before finally being allowed to settle in the West in 1973.
Georg Herold was born in Iena, East Germany in 1947. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Munich from 1974 to 1976 and at the Academy of Fine Art in Hamburg from 1977 to 1978. Recent solo exhibitions include Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London (2004), Galeria Juana de Aizpura, Madrid (2000) and Kunsthalle Zürich (1999). His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions.