ABOUT THE WORK
On first Encountering the works of Christoph Leuner, you might be puzzled by the wooden multi-part sculptures. Two or three strong, clearly defined primary bodies, cylinders or cuboids are combined to form new, unknown compact figures. With their stately, only just convenient size, they are haptic temptations, immediately triggering the urge to touch and embrace them. Conveying a strong presence, each of these works wants to make a point for itself and accordingly claims the space surrounding it. Occasional interventions and breakthroughs in the surface serve to amplify their enigmatic appeal.
The moment a sculpture is lifted by one’s own hands, is a moment of surprise as it reveals the unexpectedly light weight. Despite the fine roughness of the surfaces, which reinforces the heavy material appearance, the works are hollow inside.
Accordingly, this series of works is called Hollow-Bodies. Each sculpture contains a hidden interior space, which can be accessed by moving or lifting the individual parts according to the form-fitting connections. All the works are more or less usable vessels and containers with a simple but powerful aura. However, the true complexity of the construction is first revealed when they are opened: the formation of space through boundaries of intently selected material thickness, and in the spatial planning with openings and gaps exactly in the right place. After an initial playful and experimental search for new variations, Christoph Leuner precisely plans the intricate “architecture” with sketches, drawings and cardboard models. But first the transition to the material with the techniques and tools of carpentry and wood turning, which brings the desired subtle sensuality in the detail and creates the unique surface of every piece, like a fingerprint. Over years of applied research, Christoph Leuner has explored a multitude of different shapes, dimensions and their interplay in various types of wood.
The size of the openings and incisions defines the limits of the objects put inside, mostly small objects of significant importance: collectibles, documents, and especially very personal things. These objects find a sanctuary in the wooden structures, where they are hidden from the outside but visible to those who know through the presence of the sculpture. Therefore, the significance of the object inserted in the sculpture is amplified. Christoph Leuner considers these small objects of such an importance that it is his obligation to create a separate and adequate space to keep them.
However, the Hollow-Bodies are not only the result of a search for a sculptural expression of a practical value, but also a reference to a superordinate level: the symbolic. The empty vessel is a metaphor for the human being and its development potentialities. The title “Hollow-Bodies” is a tribute to the association with the physical corporeality of the human being. The elementary interactions with these wooden vessels become directly perceptible as gestures: accumulating, keeping, enclosing, filling, securing, protecting, condensing, holding, to name but a few. But also in the opposite direction: opening, taking out, emptying, letting go, separating, loosening, changing, exchanging.
The inside of a Hollow-Body becomes a space for the values of the past, the present, and the future: a space for memories and wishes.
In 1956 Christoph Leuner was born in the southern German metropolis Munich. From 1976 – 1979 he trained as a carpenter at the renowned vocational college for wood sculpting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In 1983 he returned to the school to pursue the rank of a master artisan. Upon completion of his education in 1986, he opened up his first workshop in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which has existed ever since. Since 2000 he teaches at the vocational college for wood sculpting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Christoph Leuner is a recipient of the Bavarian State Prize 2012 and 2000, selected exhibitor at the European Prize for Applied Arts 2015, as well as recipient of the Danner Honorary-Award 2017, and the Grassipreis 2019.