Change of Context

By Debra Koppman
February 2009

Werner Glinka’s newest assemblages, playing with the transformation of found, salvaged, scavenged and repurposed non-art materials into art, will be featured in Change of Context. Glinka’s work utilizes rusty metal bands, salvaged electrical insulators, decaying metal fences and other miscellaneous cast-offs in referencing the industrial landscape of the artist’s early childhood.

The coalmines, steel mills and other functional yet decaying structures that dominated the landscape of Germany’s Ruhr Valley made a lasting impression on Glinka’s aesthetic. Educated as an electrical engineer, Glinka’s art is also informed by mathematics and symbols used to communicate complicated concepts. Change of Context explores the interplay of space and form through familiar symbols and structures, balancing clear geometry with the variegated and irregular patterns of discarded materials. The effect of changing light on the materials lends these works an additional dimension.

The simple vertical pod form in Vessel #7103 (2007) is reminiscent of a canoe. Small bundles of redwood sticks are hitched together with copper wire, reinforcing associations of form and utility. The structure also calls to mind the idea of a container or vessel, a holding place for the multiple, repeated, irregular forms. These repeated elements might have little impact individually, so that part of the content of this work is its collective energy, a building up of large things through simple repetition. Object #861 (2008) contains a similar, but horizontal structure. Made entirely of horseshoe-shaped metal ties of the sort used to strap down lumber, this work is rich with the surface variation caused by aging and rust. The rounded edges at the top of the ties remind one of looped ribbon, repeated yet random. Flipped on its side, the pod is akin to an enormous eye, the effect reinforced by the narrow open space in the middle. Again, the repetition of a simple process that, on its own, would be utilitarian, provides a moving commentary on collective will and presence.


Werner Glinka: Change of Context will be on view March 19 through May 3 at 1870 Gallery, 1870 Ralston Ave., Belmont.