Michael Jastram’s work lives from the tension between past and present. He stands in the tradition of classical Berlin sculptors, like Rauch and Schadow, in whose studio building he worked publicly for four months last summer. But he looks back much further. His motifs reflect the primeval themes of art: horse rider and waggon, houses, towers and gates, symbols for sky, sun and moon – motifs that refer to the oldest artifacts of human creation. Nevertheless, the present time is always detectable through the traces the artist leaves while producing the sculptures. His bronzes are initially modeled in plaster which is soft first and very hard when dry, so that the artist’s finger prints are visible as well as the sharp strokes of hammer and chisel.
Now, the subject of the work presented here relates to a specific situation: it is the Torstrasse that passes through the center of the „new“ Berlin, a city quarter dominated by artists, galleries and creative businesses. Established in the 1730s, the road connected several city gates with each other, from the New Gate in the west to the Prenzlau Gate in the east. And indeed, the gates that gave the street its name were Jastram’s starting point. Needless to say that one gate in particular has played a central role in Berlin’s recent history: the Brandenburg Gate.
A high, narrow gate forms the center of this sculpture. The street is represented by a strong, slightly curved bar; at one end there are two stylised houses, at the other the horseman who has just left the town. A four-wheeled chariot carrying the scene symbolizes the movement of the earth, the level above life and acting of man. A second, horizontal bar ensures the necessary equilibrium.
It goes without saying that with this sculpture Jastram points far beyond present-day Berlin. Not only because he also refers to the Babylonian Ischtar Gate with its procession street, a gem of the Pergamon Museum on the Museum Island. It’s about timeless issues. The gate stands for the tension between security and liberty. It is a risk: What happens, Jastram asks, when we walk through the gate and go into the open, towards adventure? This issue is at the core of every heroic story, and each one of us is confronted with it in the often painful process of growing up.
With this work Michael Jastram reflects upon basic issues of human existence. The bar stands for the course of life as such, its energetic curve for the ever present abundance of possibilities. Itinerancy, vividness, change and growth as fundamental experiences. And, returning to the present, at the same time this work epitomizes – as the artist explains – the victory of Berlin’s new ease and agility over a heaviness that had been dominating the walled city for a long time.
|1953||Born in (East) Berlin|
|1976-78||Evening courses at the Art School Berlin, sculptures section|
|1979-84||Studied at the Art School Berlin, Diplom degree|
|since 1984||Free lance sculptor in Berlin|
|1984||Request for expatriation to West Berlin|
Honorary activities as a sculptor at the Deutsche Oper Berlin
|1992||Instructor for theatre sculptors at the Deutsche Oper Berlin|
Grant of the “Maison des Cultures Frontiers“, France
|2003||Lecturer for sculpture at the Artschool-International, Berlin|
Michael Jastram had a large numer of solo and group exhibitions, since 2006 regularly at the Leo Coppi Gallery, Berlin, furthermore in renowned galleries and institutions in Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United States.
For a complete biography please see the artist’s website: Michael Jastram.