Ornament is like a flower meadow. If I regard the meadow superficially - it is green, only with a closer inspection I recognise the multiplicity of the individual flowers and plants. As I can go on the meadow from the whole to the particular and again back, it is also possible with the ornament to make completely unexpected discoveries.



This investigating, but also the artistic creation itself, gives the ornament an amazing possibility to have an on our mind. Especially the religions have recognised the power of the ornaments already very early and used it for itself profitably. One might just think of the decoration of the prayer areas or of the initiation of people into their religious environment. I cannot escape this power when entering artistically decorated holy areas or when viewing religious books. I cannot escape this fascination of the ornaments when looking at them. I experience the ornament even more deeply when arranging it by myself. The creative power, which is inherent in to all human beings, then unfolds through me here and now. The inherent divine of each human being develops itself therein.


Especially in the religious sphere the ornament receives a special profundity. The ornament transforms religious statements, makes them mystically better understood, on another level than words could do. The understanding of an ornament does not function via the intellect, but via emotions. Unfortunately, we are no longer as experienced in this way of contemplation as our ancestors were. But we can get involved again in the adventure of contemplation. We can learn to enjoy the ornament, as we enjoy a piece of music or a meal, although we know neither the notes nor the receipt of the meal. We can follow the main lines, recognise the delicately elaborated lines. This way we are often getting especially deep into the ornament in front of us. Slowly the ornament is opening up in its full wealth. We are in the process to discover its beauty and its inner importance.
 

The separation of ornament and image was not as strictly seen in the past as it is today. Ornaments were added to figurative images, representational sculptures were decorated with ornaments and so a deep change of the represented issue had been reached.

It is possible to say that since there have been human beings the ornament existed too. Starting with simple line ornaments it has made a development through human history, which was suddenly stopped in the Western civilisation at the beginning the 20th century. Adolf Loos was a key figure with his book "Ornament and Crime" (about 1908) in which he proclaimed the end of the ornament. The deeper meaning of the ornaments got forgotten. One can say, it has been tried to eliminate the ornament from the art. In other cultures it lasts until today. In the Islam the idea of the ornaments reaches not only into the fine arts, but is extended likewise into music as well as poetry. The Muslims don’t understand the creation of an ornament as a human act but as one of God, in a certain way a mystic concept or experience.

This proscription of the ornament in our culture is comparable with a censorship, with a dictate, to which many subscribed. A reason has certainly also been the immense work, which is hidden in an ornament, which became more and more expensive with the increasing industrialisation.

Only later during the 20th century the ornament experienced a revival in our culture. It has been above all Matisse, who introduced a new stylistic idiom into the modern understanding of ornaments.

What probably most of the contemporary artists overlook in the case of the ornament, is the fact that the ornament is actually the first abstraction in art. They do not consider the idea that the ornament also embodies the liberty of fantasy and contains the free play of imagination. On the basis of different basic forms I see the ornament split into two directions. There is on the one hand the direction of the regular division of the surface, which developed to a large extent independently, until today. The second direction, which comprises the irregular division of the surface, developed less spectacularly, but it can still be found in isolated cases until today.

In my artistic work this direction of the irregular allocation of surface is a direction, which has always fascinated me. I could find this irregular allocation of surface already with very old ornaments. I took up this idea and developed it artistically for me further. So, some of my books were already created taking this idea into account.

For my artistic comprehension ornament and art has nothing to do with perfection, this term is in my opinion connected with the machine. We do not need to compare, to measure ourselves with machines; they have no soul, which could be expressed in their works.

Ornament does not depend on repetition, but on the desire to make an inner significance visible and to provide for the experience of it. It was probably this profundity, which inspired the Celts and the Chinese in the same epoch. They used independently of each other the same spiral ornaments in their cultures.

For the contemporary artists, who let themselves into the adventure ‘Ornament’, it is essential to find their very own way to and into the ornament. Ornament is in a certain form also a restriction. And restriction can be more, if one understands to obtain the maximal possible within the constraints of the frame.

And in the end a further thought on the ornament. There is ornament everywhere where people live. Thus a community which connects us all. Perhaps we could find our peace among ourselves through something that is connecting us. Ornament carries artistically a bridging function between the cultures. It did so already in the past, and it is still doing so today. This becomes clear for example in the case of the vine leaf arabesque. In the past it has been incorporated in the various cultures within the Eurasian area, even if changes occurred.

Through the computers of our time, the ornament gets meanwhile introduced again into many fields of art. It remains thus interesting to keep in touch with the further development of the ornaments.


G.J.W