“Johannes and I met through common friends of my parents long before the gallery existed and instantly liked each other. We then did several exhibition projects in Frankfurt, which, considering my experience, were an unexpected and encouraging success. Johannes is an inexhaustible worker. All the materials he employs go through labour intensive processes, in particular the larger blown glass pieces. Johannes then combines the materials, which physically almost unfeasible, but the results look effortless. The metaphor of the elements is self-evident, yet the balance of lightness and weight, of light and shade, fullness and void is admirable. Nature concentrated and revived.”
Johannes von Stumm is a classical sculptor, even if his works do not look like sculptures in the traditional sense. Combining iron, granite, glass and sometimes wood, von Stumm strikes a deliberate balance between these elements, condensed to a microcosmic essence of the natural world around us. The carefully entangled structures evoke sensations of nature and landscape, but do likewise express the taming of nature through human intervention.
The artist rules a range of masterful techniques, from glass-blowing to joinery and blacksmithing, which he combines with traditional stone sculpting techniques. Being told that the alliance of these very different materials was next to impossible, the challenge became irresistible. After a long time of experimenting von Stumm finally developed a way of joining these opposing forces to an inseparable unity. An idiosyncratic method where inter-dependent pieces hold each other upright and in position, comparable to the almost extinct mastery of carpentry with wood to wood joinery.
The results are beautiful, abstract pieces that facilitate a fascinating balance between the strong and the fragile, the solid and the liquid, the dark and the transparent. The playful intertwining of the different materials, their textures and colours, as well as the varying reflections and absorptions of light on their surfaces – from matte stone to shiny steel and glass - symbolise a finely balanced and fragile unity. A uniformity potentially linking to eastern philosophy and its unifying opposing forces; an equilibrium that lays at the base of our macrocosm and the creation of our planet earth; the complexities and harmonies of our versatile and ever-changing world.
Whilst von Stumm’s early sculptures were partly figurative, where the empty space was representing the body, the sculpture the outline, his most recent body of work has become increasingly abstract concentrating on above mentioned possible readings and conceptual ideas even further.
Johannes von Stumm became a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors in 2004 and served as President from 2009 to 2012. He is a Founding Member of Sculpture Network Europe, a member of the Deutsche Künstlerbund in Berlin and the current President of The Oxford Art Society.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Should I stay or Should I Go, 2019 (group show)
Kaleidoscope: re-shuffle, 2014 (group show)