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Comments About Books by Werner Reichhold


Jeffrey Woodward
Comments about Landzeichen, Handshake, Tidalwave, and Bridge of Voices

The work in the Landzeichen(1980 - wherein Werner Reichhold invents a new Land Art through photomontage, a marriage of existing landscapes and rusty iron sculptures, dream landscapes of what could be -- demonstrates clearly your recognition of the temporal quality of art, even of the monumental and pre-historical works weathered away across the globe.  Why, then, not sanction a dream or trance where natural material and human artifact are subject to the caprice of time?
Unless I mistake the above as fundamental to your thought, Werner, this very cognizance of mutability stands behind your determined use of disposable materials (cheap, non-durable, plastic, cloth, wood, found-objects and even mercantile products) from the Installation 1975-1985 catalogue forward.  To extend Leonardo's prescription that one might seek inspiration from gazing fixedly at the stains on old walls, here the drawings -- predominately studies for the installations? -- prepare an intuitive trance or dream image for objectification.  I am struck by how often the line in the graphics allows permutation after permutation, how transient your seeing is, how obsessively it returns to allude briefly to this or that internal organ or exterior body part as a motif.
You will pardon me if I construe Handshake (1989), Tidal Wave (1989) and Bridge of Voices (1990) -- with their mix of haiku, drawing, installation, collage, photograph and photomontage --- as a triptych or trilogy; their methods are so intimately intertwined.  While the ready analogies of renku linkage or material juxtaposition in collage come to mind, they are only rough analogies and do not properly describe, in my estimation, the interplay between the varied elements of these books:  written word, photograph, collage, line-drawing or even the cursive of your signature.  I might point out haiku that I particularly admire for their originality:

                                                                                      ocean in a cloud

where the normative three-line lineation thinly disguises what a later haiku typography renders transparent:
                                                                  as far as one can swim

i.e., the insertion of a descriptive clause between a noun (rain / salmon) and its customary companion and modifier (falling / king).  It is a beautiful verbal construction and, far from avant-garde, strikes the modern ear as so strikingly new precisely because it is so ancient:  Old English alliterative poetry, classical Welsh poetry,  Old Norse court-meter and the pillow-words of Japanese waka, employ a similar rhetorical strategy.
To admire one haiku or drawing or photomontage, however, in isolation from its total plastic and verbal context, really does no justice to your work, Werner.  Such an approach is rather like the standard monograph practice of presenting painting or architecture for explication by showing numerous detail reproductions but, in this case, without a summary overview of the whole.

Adele Pilsk, Independent Coast Observer, Gualala, California
Comments about Tidalwave

Werner Reichhold, West Coast artist /author, offers a mini-museum in which he invites the viewer to wander. The museum is made of paper, suggest substance, moves like a tidal wave, quite literary pulls together threads of his life, and beckons to the reader / viewer. It is composed haiku, tanka, other texts, installations, drawings, collages, photographs, photomontages and sensuality. Reichhold has shown massive steel-installations in galleries and museums in his native Germany, Italy, France, in the Americas and elsewhere. In his book he has attempted successfully to create the power of one of his giant installation in a new form


Joe Nut
Comments about Tidalwave

I think that the energy, the motivation behind a work, the strength of values, are paramount. The light touch, humor, cuts far deeper into the human psyche than reasons and intelligence. He has chattered the barrier to the subconscious beyond the capacities of most of us, proof to the strength of the artist in him. And to do this without being overwhelmed and driven to insanity, your lightness is both a cultivated defense and necessity. Perhaps the only sane approach to life. Reichhold: Keep braking the barriers of rationality; use your multiple skills to detonate a lot of rigid mind sets in the haiku community today – something needed. It appears that many who write haiku today are multi-talented, with professional dancers, singers, mimes, photographers, and other art forms represented. There must be something about haiku, ZEN and oriental philosophy that appeals to a variety of artistic sensibilities.


Larry Junkins, Professor of the Art Department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Comments about Handshake

What I appreciate in Werner Reichhold’s drawings, is their unpredictable, revelatory character. They certainly present experience of reality. I find the drawings charming. Their crazy intensity travels the full emotional range from the sublime to the corrupt. I enjoy their often nasty, almost perverse whimsy as well as their obvious elegance. There is a delightfully rambunctious, almost wickedly prankster-prone quality about them that is entirely entertaining. Their spirit seems quite wonderful human.


Larry Junkins, Professor of the Art Department of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Comments about Tidalwave

I appreciate Werner Reichhold’s Tidalwave as one of a growing number of artwork by artists whose creative endeavor ultimately focuses on the value of art to the realization od a more compassionate world. Such artists see art as a viable means to the development of language stat still communicate a vision of hope for our planet and all its people. It is my appreciation that this movement is the “avant-garde” of contemporary art. I also believe the exploration of art as a technology to heal individuals and nations is the ultimate source of aesthetic renewal. Any breakthrough to a profound artistic vision will derive from the energy that flows from the passion for the reconstruction of our world from an attitude of peace for the planet Earth and its inhabitants. This movement is gaining increased momentum throughout the world in many disciplines other than art, but art is the only one that can create the appropriate images. There is an urgent need for new symbols as well as the revivification of the old ones that proclaim the simple vision of compassion. Now the challenge for artists is greater than ever before in history because of the need we have to develop images that speak not only of the individual artist’s life but on a much deeper level call forth a memory of a common collective bond. Now and in the future if art does not speak of the fact of universal human aspiration it will have failed entirely.