Records of a Dialogue with the World
The diversity of form in Ernst Hesse's work would seem to point in different directions, but the tendency is not disparate. It is the versatility of one whole, with the experiences of the one artist's biography äs the common source. The different branches of this oeuvre all speak of the zoon politikon, Aristotle's social being that feels his way tentatively through the world, receptive, with respect and open eyes. Hesse is a sculptor, object artist and painter, he also works through the medium of photography. Then there are the video documentaries and in- terviews, made in the countries he has visited, with greater frequency since the late 1980s. Since then, for the most part on the invitation of the Goethe Institut, he has taken on teaching commissions, especially at art academies in Turkey and the Far East, in the United States, and, most recently, in Africa. In evidence in all this is his premise of widening art and having it and the social, public sphere interpenetrate-and thus, of looking squarely at identity, be it another's or
one's own. It is consistent that Hesse has realised the projects with his students at the heart of urban spaces, or on a ferry; that he should seek, with those students, public places, a scrapyard, a railway Station, a children's home, and that he should venture into other genres of art and have worked with musicians, writers and dancers. Hesse takes the concept of cultural exchange literally, both in his collaboration with colleagues and, for example, in mounting and co-curating an exhibition with German and Turkish artists in Istanbul and Düsseldorf...
Conversely, all this flows back into his own work; one could trace individual aspects or forms in it to ritual actions and the reservoir of Images Jafound in those foreign parts. Hesse's artistic approach by far transcends concentration on the single piece of work and its formal solutions; encounter or debate with the different cultures is a conscious aim, in his own words, as dialogue. His work develops in cycles. The titles of these complexes, each completed in different media, are to be seen as programmatic, relating to Hesse's stance and the context of his experiences and observations.
Thomas Hirsch, 2003