by Helmut Schneider, 1990
Gabriela von Habsburg has created large sculptures: asymmetrical constructions composed of linear and planar elements that reach into space, thereby relating to their given exterior and interior environment, and offering up different aspects to the viewer, according to one’s viewpoint.
Irrespective of one’s position vis-a-vis the sculpture, its visual unity is maintained: units of differentiated formal assertiveness and differentiated material character are integrated in such a way that the coherence of the three dimensional structure is always visible and legible. The artist’s conception of an “all over” of formal and spatial structure, which underlies her descriptive thinking, states itself even more definitively in her recent small format sculptures. These configurations -most often a union of round and angled parts- stand on mirrors, which, while certainly serving as bases, are also unmistakably part of the sculpture.
For on their surfaces the compact steel forms mirror themselves, and through this reflection, the actual three-dimensional figure expands visually to become another, despite the apparent doubling with the non-identical original. The sculpture grows in the mirror, but the resulting figure exists only virtually, as a possibility. The viewer can him- or herself determine the position of these works, handy and to be handled: she can turn them, stand them upside down- and in each position, the visible formal aspects otter a view that allows one to recognize the sculpture’s structural unity. The totality of all possible views (along with their correlating mirror images) then adds up to the complete spatial reality of the sculpture -which extends itself into a realm in which volume and depth are merely simulated.
The sculpture and its mirror image fuse to become an imaginary space, an impression that is intensified even more by the application of transparent paint to the metal’s smooth surface.
Struck by light, the paint dissolves the surface into iridescence – and thus, when the already reflecting sculpture is reflected in the mirror, a kaleidoscope effect ensues in which reality and illusion flow into one another.