The Storied Sight of Hubert Kretzschmar
by John Hood
The story goes like this:
A King, tired from a Hunt, took forty winks beneath a tree. Deeply asleep, he dreamed of his lover’s fan. When he awoke, he decided to build a castle on the very spot. From the new castle radiated a town, spread in the shape of the dream fan. The King’s name was Karl. The town was named Karlsruhe, or “Karl’s Resting Place”.
Like Bentham’s Panopticon, the town was at once monstrous and beautiful. The spines of the fan became Karlsruhe’s major avenues. At the fan’s base where the streets met, loomed not just the castle but a number of strategically-placed cannon. Thus were the town folk kept in line and under eye.
Karl’s final resting place was marked by a large pyramid, which stands to this day, just outside the castle. Karlsruhe, hard on the Rhine River and skirting the Black Forest, is a magical construct. In time, engineers would control the river, but the wild willfulness of the surrounding woods remains uncollared since before the town’s birth.
Neither would the willfulness of Karlsruhe’s people be completely tamed. Hubert Kretzschmar was raised in that land of Kings and Forest. As a child he played among the ghosts of the dense, dark Forest and the River’s tributaries. As a student, he mastered the King's symbolic iconography. As a New Yorker, an exile among exiles, Kretzschmar took those hauntings and symbols, made of them a totemic body traversing disciplines, and made of himself a visualist of some repute.
Like a Liberatore in Weimar, Kretzschmar mines his cultural history, while challenging its legacy of tradition. His is a vision of composite of which Beckmann, Dix and the rest of the Republic regulars would approve. Picture Dürer at the gates of the digital age; a happening along the clean lines of De Stijl, suffused with the raw irony of Dada; Surrealism’s fluidity matched with Pop Art’s reverent irreverence. Experiencing this work, we become aware of unconscious meaning imbedded in the stuff of everyday.