The ambiguity in the sculptures by Gregor Gaida (* 1975 in Chorzów, Poland) is the result of an apparent concurrence of figuration and abstraction. He manages this through a variety of artistic strategies: through reflections and repetitions, through breaks and gaps and by means of the play with the ambivalent associations which his works evoke.
Gaida utilises reflections – such as with the aluminium sculpture Polygonales Pferd II (Polygonal Horse), which is installed in front of the gallery in the outer room – by selecting part of the horse’s body and duplicating it so often in the rotation around one axis until a new, cohesive whole emerges. Through this repetition of a fragment the formerly familiar body becomes an ornamental object that not only seems ambiguous, but also strange, like an immovable, non-viable mutation. In this way there is no evaluation of a specific perspective as with Elementarz: two owls in flight, which are not fragmented, although linked with one another in order to revolve around one reference point in the room. Smaller objects featuring various materials, entitled Membran (Membrane), depict delicately modelled animals which seem to vanish in polygons: mutilated, geometric-organic composite beings are created, even if one tries to ‘imagine’ the missing pieces.
But the use of reflecting surfaces within the sculptures also causes a disruption of the view, which from such a possible meaning distinguishes the form and the spatial relationship of individual parts of the figure from each other. Gaida modelled the Dornauszieher (Boy with Thorn) – a sculpture created by Gustav Eberlein during 1879-86 according to a classical model – in acrylic resin. However, the thorn which the boy wants to pull from his left foot in the original and the dynamic turning of his body become subordinate here, because five long thorns pierce the body through the head, back and knee, and deprive him of the right leg and left arm. These long, straight gaps featuring dark wood outside and mirrored inside now give the figure more than merely a foothold. The way in which Eberlein’s original is intentionally deprived through the model in the new work is depicted in a downright destructive manner.
A grey flag mounted on the gallery wall, with a silvery Rococo curlicue from which filaments seem to sprout, is not only neutral due to its colour. The emotions, the symbolic content, the pathetic character of a flag, all positive and negative associations are invalidated through this manner of representation and leave nothing behind but ambivalence. However, Gaida does not formulate this artistically here, but leaves the interpretation up to the viewer in a thoroughly ironic way.
Gaida’s three metre high sculpture Reichstagsfiale (Reichstag Pinnacle) also remains without pathos. Here he reproduces – true to scale – that part of the Reichstag building’s architecture on which a Red Army soldier mounted a Soviet flag at the end of the war. This is a scene which became quite famous due to the photograph by Yevgeny Khaldei. However, the new isolated pinnacle is not a realistic copy; in addition to the material remoteness (soft wood against the hard sandstone) and the concept as solitary, not the actual architecture but the well-known photograph turns out to be the model. It involves the media process in which the artist takes the picture and immediately becomes detached from it again with his sculpture. The traces of work, the furrows of the chain saw remain visible and transfer the object into a state of autonomy in terms of its form and its materiality.
Personal sentiments and memories are not the thematic basis of his works. Gaida makes use of generally available, mostly photographic models. The choice of his motifs is characterised by influences of art history as well as societal and media-cultural aspects. Since Gaida dispenses with any narration, the viewer’s aesthetic reflection becomes the focal point of his works.