Statue taken from ‘Untitled’ series (1988-89), Hans Josephsohn

Statue taken from 'Untitled' series (1988-89), Hans Josephsohn

You first encounter Hans Josephsohn’s work with this sculpture it looms overhead at the end of a passageway, lit up by few lights and casting an ominous shadow against the wall. It is at once distinctively human, and yet not, unconsciously referencing primitive ideas of ‘gods’, or other-worldly beings that resemble, but are not, humans.

Under further research, I discovered that the pieces actually reference the Golems of Jewish folklore; mystical beings brought to life from statues, and known as protectors of humanity. Hans himself was from jewish ancestry, and almost explicitly worked on the human form in art. His sculptures always focus on a female model, and one that is a close friend or relative (often his own life-partner). This adds another aspect of care and motherly instinct to the pieces, they become waiting sentinels, carved out of the earth.

I fins it fascinating that Hans could evoke such powerful protective connotations into a chunk of stone, I looked up at the piece as it towered over me, and although my instinct would be to feel fear; I felt a warmth, a comfort in the humanity that I sensed within the simple face. It really was beautiful.


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