The monumental flowers and plants made of steel, wax and resin make an imposing, nearly fantastic impression on us: Bruno Feder divorces them from their actual purpose and the manifestations that are familiar to us, staging them in public spaces and in natural environments. Whether as a single isolated plant or placed in groups, they thrust heavenwards with steely force in a quite matter of fact fashion. For example, our eyes are drawn along a steel pipe several metres in length, which pushes towards the sky in a curving tangent, but nevertheless with static vertical force. Two oval-shaped steel leaves made of tiny plates of material unfurl at the tip. The welding seams are still clearly visible. Individual pieces that were previously cut out of a large steel plate are fused together to create a new shape.
“Separation and joining are a contradiction, but indispensable elements of life.” That is how Bruno Feger describes his inspiration for the creative process: it is of elementary importance to him, not solely serving to complete a work of art, but also acting as part of the work of art itself. At the same time, his fascination with opposites with reference to material and the work process as well as to the meaning of his works is also obvious.
For the viewer, the object reveals itself to be a flowering plant not least because of the vividly coloured surface of the materials. In this context, the artist relies on the viewer’s potential of amassed experience and his capacity for association, which infuse the sculpture with its function and meaning. He creates an intensive link between the sculpture and the viewer that opens up entirely new realms of experience for the latter.
In his works, Bruno Feger pursues the path of confrontation – with regard to the relationship between viewer and object as well as with regard to the relationship between Nature and object. While he designs his sculptures according to prototypes that can be found in Nature, he subsequently returns them back to Nature.
They appear to be a kind of exemplar staged outdoors. The material they are made of challenges the natural environment around them in a drastic fashion, but the shapes fashioned of rigid substances blend into the movements of the outdoors with an almost swaying motion. A foreign object harmonising with its surroundings, seeming to resonate in unison at the same time. That triggers a dialogue that is rich in contrasts between the permanent and the ephemeral, between reality and fiction, between distance and proximity.
It is also almost impossible for the viewer to escape this field of dramatic tension: he is confronted by monumental plants, flowers and grasses that completely disregard familiar assumptions of relative size and transport him into situations with entirely new, unaccustomed perspectives.
Integrated into their respective temporary locations, the sculptures seem to be integral parts of the surrounding landscape that have never been moved. However, in spite of the ostensible harmony the viewer quickly becomes confused and begins to question what he has seen. Our knowledge of Nature and its manifestations enables us to immediately comprehend what types of plants are confronting us, even towering over us. The tulip, the rosehip or simple grasses – all of them are familiar to us thanks to their shape, colour and their place in Nature. Bruno Feger creates a link between art and viewer with the aid of those natural shapes, which are so familiar to us. We are spontaneously and almost automatically drawn towards the objects: we can examine them from all sides, walk around them or even through them. At the same time, the artist challenges us. He transforms apparently normal plants that are so familiar to us into oversized shapes, allowing them to grow heavenwards in the most beautiful growth patterns imaginable and with a steel structure, in defiance of all vegetation. In this way, a new realm of experience opens up, seemingly transcending visible reality.
The starting point of Bruno Feger’s art almost always seems to be an attempt to create a proportionate relationship between object and sign, to interlink them but also to interchange them reciprocally.
He creates his flowers and other plants as ideal images, immortal, like snapshots of their most beautiful state of growth, but also recognisable to the viewer in their abstract shape and colour. The symbolic power of the plants themselves and their colour (often deep red, blue or green) seem to reveal their meaning to the viewer immediately:
the healing power of rosehips, the deep red of tulips which signalises passion and fertility as well as danger. Or grass, which is frequently barely noticed along the side of a road or underfoot in Nature, but here it captures the entire attention of the viewer as an isolated individual object, its colour standing equally for hope and growth.
The formal as well as content-related contradictions and contrasts are what enable Bruno Feger’s sculptures to communicate their message. Transience is brought to a standstill, naturalness is supplanted by artificiality, laws of proportion are suspended, the real is enhanced into the ideal, actuality and reality are questioned. Furthermore, the placement of the actually rigid sculptures initiates movement and triggers a dialogue with the space surrounding them.
As a result of this idealising presentation method which is rich in contrast as well as their disproportionate size, the sculptures become striking symbols in public spaces or in the midst of Nature which they are modelled after and in the middle of which they now serve as a controversy that generates dramatic tension, thus redefining our perception of things and simultaneously posing existential questions.
In a similar manner to how Bruno Feger removes and isolates his plant creations from their natural location and purpose in order to serve as a symbol, he also extracts words or entire parts of sentences from their respective linguistic or literary context and positions them freely in space as three-dimensional steel objects. In this context, the meaning of the words is usually quite difficult to decipher, whereas they play an elementary role for the creative process, the metamorphosis-like process transforming the symbol into an object.
In those works, Bruno Feger also experiments with the relationship between object and meaning. His images do not directly trigger associations in us, although they are sustained solely by their content-related meaning in their original manifestation.
We have to completely give ourselves over to perceiving the shapes and the shadows cast, the movement and material, without being able to immediately develop a concrete thought focussing on content.
The artist himself describes the effect of his steel words in the following statement:
“This cryptic essence of dissimilarity with things, which in turn makes those things veritable.”
Here – unlike in his steel blossoms, grasses and plants – the symbol itself takes on a tangible shape that transforms language into a three-dimensional entity which attains entirely new levels of meaning.