Lukas Schmenger – Portrait of the artist as a gong (2022)
A giant, perfectly round head in bas-relief is strung between the trees of De Oude Warande. Lukas Schmenger (b. Filderstadt, Germany, 1981, lives in Düsseldorf, Germany) created it specially for GODHEAD. The sculpture is spectacular, but also alienating and somewhat grim, an expressionless face with seams.
In his work, Schmenger focuses primarily on the depiction of people. He makes sculptures, drawings and paintings of bodies and faces. He is not interested in a realistic portrayal of physical characteristics, but more in psychological and emotional aspects. His head sculptures are not portraits. Even though they have human features, the lack of facial expression means that they do not resemble living faces. Partly because of the predominantly grey colour and flat shape, the work is immediately recognisable as a dead object. The mask, far more than the living human being, is the starting point for his exploration of the human condition. Schmenger takes inspiration from personal memories of people around him, including himself, and from art history. His works contain references to sculptural traditions of ancient cultures. It is the Egyptian culture that comes to mind first, but his practice is in fact a hybrid mix of a number of sculptural traditions. As in those traditions, Schmenger’s work focuses on the body as a transitional zone between the spiritual world and the world of objects. ‘Fluidity and the idea of passage interests me in the figures and heads that I make. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell if they look feminine or masculine. I would say that the genre of the portrait interests me to such an extent because it is related to questions about representation.’
With his work, Schmenger investigates whether it is possible to depict more of human psychology than can be seen in reality. He poses himself the following question: How can a piece of art showing a figure or a head create a presence all of its own? In this context, he speaks about his own sculptures as afterimages or ghosts, as they have arisen within his mind as a result of what he has experienced or seen but do not exist in reality. His work for GODHEAD also makes us wonder in which dimension this creature could exist.