FUNNY, IRONIC, OFFENSIVE | Blalla W. Hallmann would have given a lot to be dead a few times during his lifetime. Now that the Nuremberg artist has actually gone after a serious illness at the age of 56, he seems very much alive again thanks to an exhibition at the Bernsteinzimmer Gallery.
In a 149-sheet linoleum-cut sequence, Hallmann reviewed his life in 1995 in the manner of a diary. Witty, ironic and of course also offensive, the psychologically afflicted man gives us an insight into his life. Even his birth was a martyrdom: devils dragged the little Blalla down to earth with forceps. His father Ewald, a native of Lower Silesia, is presented to us as a dead man. The portrait of his mother Liesbeth seems to be patched together from a thousand pinpricks. There follow moves, studies, a nerve-racking trip to America.
Then again glimpses of Hallmann's pictorial worlds: Pluto and Goofy as part of a crucifixion scene, starring Mickey Mouse on the cross. The motif is taken from a series of reverse glass paintings, part of which was purchased by the Cologne Diocesan Museum in 1991.
With the love it must have been for the former Nuremberg academy student also such a cross - according to attached text comments the first experience had been long in coming. A whorehouse finally redeemed the 21-year-old - this is also illustrated in a hefty way. It is ingenious how the artist varies the linocut technique with the sometimes spidery, comic imagery and remains absolutely original even in the transposition of photographic originals. The portraits of the "Gregor Samsa" clique with artist friends Harri Schemm, Peter Angermann and Peter Hammer, prove it. Hallmann had actually stipulated in his will that his works should not be shown until several years after his passing. This last will - so insiders affirm - will not be disregarded, because the prints are excluded from it, also nothing will be sold.
The exhibition, which runs until July 5, is seamlessly complemented by the show at Galerie Röver, which opens its doors tonight. Around 50 artists from Germany and abroad are exhibiting under the motto "Hello Blalla". They are all friends, acquaintances or students of the deceased, who died a year ago yesterday. On display will be works by such well-known artists as Peter Angermann, Toni Burghart, Harry Schemm and Lajos Keresztes. The opening will include a reading by Peter Schnetz from Bamberg as well as singing and poetry recitations by Ingo Oehler-Bonnet.