Travelling in Eastern Slovakia the sculptor dreams of new sculptures in wood. The fifteenth-century altarpieces inspire
To what can we nowadays dedicate an altar? What images are sacred to us?
Hanneke de Munck wants to restore religion as one of the aspects of the human being, like a kind of sense organ that makes you experience solidarity.
In this perspective an altarpiece becomes a spatial ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (total work of art) dedicated to a human value that we nowadays experience as something precious.
Animistic images, the All-mother, Isis and Osiris, God, Christ and the Prophets and universal shapes may be visible in it.
The altarpieces may assume the form of the traditional triptych or a field shrine or even come close to a totem.
By using symbolism and shapes from the various religions and combining these with modern forms, fascinating images can result: new altarpieces.
Altarpieces provide artists with a great opportunity to work together starting from their different disciplines to realize three-dimensional objects which, while supporting works of art created by sculptor and painter, graphic artist and poet, at the same time are pedestal, panel and frame.
Hanneke de Munck invites a fellow artist to work together. Each time the path is different. Nine altarpieces have now come into being, some directly and others indirectly joined by another artist, like the tenth-century Armenian poet Narekatsi who has been the source of inspiration of Narek.
The series will be expanded to 12 altarpieces, in cooperation with three members of the sculptors’ collective ABK: Leo van den Bos, Deirdre Mcloughlin and Jan van Schaik. The artists wish to position these new altarpieces on places where many people do meet.
It is intended to organize the first exposition of the altarpieces in the Oude Kerk (church) in Amsterdam accompanied by a special programme.
The municipal discussion on religion will have a new platform.
Altar case with two wings, black tarred exterior with carved Bible text;
two plane-wood Dolphins, 80 and 90 cm high.
An Ocean made of coloured fish skins on the inside of the case and the wings, by Hélène Min.
The case is placed on two tree-trunk pieces, poplar, 55 cm high, standing
on a coloured altar block, approx 70 cm high, on a platform.
Total height 255 cm.
Orpheus’ Glorification of Nature, together with Kees van Burg, painter.
Shaped like a little field shrine.
Small altar case made of oak.
Wooden pillar from Indonesia, approx 100 cm high.
Figure of Orpheus on goblet, approx 25 cm high, oak, by Hanneke de Munck.
Kees van Burg adorned the interior of the case with a painted magnolia pattern.
The Laws of the Heart, a triptych with a double gate, together with Shawky Ezzat, painter.
An antique Pakistan gate, approx 150x195 cm, cedar wood.
Two Prophets, lime wood, approx 70 cm high, carved by Hanneke de Munck.
In front, a second gate, made of plywood, 6 cm thick, painted by Shawky Ezzat.
Texts on this gate in Arabic, Latin and Hebrew.
Platform of pinewood beams, 200x200x15 cm.
Adam and Eve, a triptych, together with Sietse H. Bakker, free graphics.
Double-sided central panel, 110x110 cm, with lime wood and oak figures. Two wings 105 cm high, pear wood 6 cm
thick, carved in relief and coloured with inks by Sietse Bakker.
With Bible text: the story of the Creation according to St. John;
Olga Sedakova’s poem ‘The Word’ and the poem ‘Black Earth’ by Osip Mandelstam.
On a black block of appox 80x80x80 cm with empty predella.
Figure of an Angel, approx 60 cm high, olivewood; in a shallow central casing with one wing and deep predella.
Total height, including platform and case, approx 160 cm.
The Memory, together with Klaas Govers, poet en composer.
Sculpture of Baby Whale, approx 175 cm high, made of oak wood by Hanneke de Munck, on wooden block standing on a platform; total
height approx 320 cm.
A poem by Klaas Govers, written in the hollow of the wooden block and recorded on sound equipment with the poet’s voice
Totem of Bear with Salmon, old wood and black granite.
Press cutting with a report on the World Food Bank, sealed in small piece of perspex and countersunk in the platform, 6x6 cm. English translation of the text along the edge of the platform: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Platform approx 110x110x40 cm, total height approx 180 cm.
Narek, a shrine.
Wooden block washed up on the island of Schiermonnikoog, approx 175 cm high, tied to which a sculpture of purple wood.
After the ‘Book of Lamentations’ by Narekatsi, tenth-century Armenian poet and monk.
Slavist Anne Stoffel on Narek: nárek with háček above the ‘r’ is to be found in the Czech-German dictionary by Jan Volný: nářek – das Jammern, das Gejammer, die Klage (lamentations).
The Given Time.
A little tree shrine with God’s hand in pear wood in it and God himself on top of it, approx 90 cm.
Inspired by the ABK theme exposition at Sijpesteijn castle.
Scream in the Universe - together with Leo van den Bosch, sculptor
Inspired by a composition by Galina Ustvolskaja. Three taxus wooden sculptures placed in an abstract wood composition. The shape
is derived from a ‘Gesprenge’, the superstructure of a late Gothic high altar. The total height is 5 m.
After the Mythe, a shrine - together with Jan van Schaik, sculptor
The sculpture ‘The Family’, 100 cm, cherry-wood, in a shrine made of osiers, standing on an see-through block in which the willow branches are visible rooted in soil. The osiers will shoot later on. Total height approx 3 m.
Empty Form - together with Deirdre Mcloughlin, sculptress
This ceramic sculpture, 40x27x25 cm, named ‘Empty Form’, at high temperature fired by Deirdre Mcloughlin, lies on an altar
structure composed from heavy beams by Hanneke de Munck.
The shape of the old altarpiece as a whole is a wooden piece of furniture, in fact a unit standing alone in an empty space.
The central part is a shallow casing with wings that may close the case and an upper part that in its simplest form has the shape of a triangle. However, the upper part can have so many shapes that it looks like a forest, in which several small sculptures are standing alone. The underside consists of a so-called predella, a not so tall case, again with sculpture work or with a painted panel. The edges serve as frames and are sometimes adorned with wood carving as well. The whole structure is standing on an altar or a table block.
The central case contains the sculpture or sculpture group, to which the altar is dedicated. The room in this case may be subdivided, too. Sometimes there are double wings/shutters. The inside is painted in bright colours with much gold, whereas the outside is more subdued and quieter.
In Levoča stands the highest altar of 18 meters made by master Pavol, a fifteenth-century sculptor and honorary citizen. Anyhow, altars are to be found in any size and varying from very rich to very primitive.
The way in which altarpieces have been designed in the fifteenth century has in our culture largely lost its effect; in their quality as property of the church they support the dogmas of that institute, and people do no longer know the meaning of the saint’s lives that are represented by them.