Classic Sculpture, Object Art, Installation?

Unen Enkh’s work concept  |  by Franz Armin Morat


Among all human artistic modes of expression, sculpture is by far the oldest. As recently as May this year, what is probably the oldest artwork made by human hand, namely a 40,000 year old ivory representation of the female body, was discovered west of Ulm in the eastern part of the Swabian Alb hills. Portrayals of animals of a similar age were found in the same area a few years ago. What is astonishing, however, is not the age but rather the fact that during almost the entire period, sculptures were restricted to representations of animals and people only. It was not until the early 20th century that the sculptors expanded their repertoire of motifs at a virtually explosive rate.





In terms of his selection of virtually archaic materials (Mongolian felt with different degrees of hardness resulting from the addition of synthetic resin, heavy iron wire, occasionally with horsehair and hemp cords) Unen Enkh is a sculptor in the classic sense. And he is most certainly an avant-garde artist in the way he brings humor and irony to bear when, for example, he makes use of close meshed steel wire to deny access to a building that resembles a yurt; or when he seems to suspend the law of gravity by making the attachment of a wire sculpture »invisible«. the effect of his three-dimensional »drawings in space« made of iron wire is as astounding as it is impressive — the result is an alternation between genres. Neither does the long obsolete differentiation of the abstract from the representational help us classify Unen Enkh’s work. For he creates both representational and abstract sculptures and, most importantly, every »intermediate form«.





What about the question of installation art?


Positioning a large sculpture in a space is inevitably already an installation per se. In a narrower sense of the term however, I do not consider its use in reference to Unen Enkh’s sculptures appropriate, because their form itself is not affected when presented in a different way in different spaces. Not least Unen Enkh’s own photographs of his exhibition, abundantly documented in this catalog, show just how blurred the boundaries are.


In conclusion, suffice it to say that all of Unen Enkh’s sculptures are individual pieces of work in the classic sense of the term, which does not at all impair his enormous imaginative diversity. In this respect, as a traditional sculptor Unen Enkh acts in the realm of avant-garde art by creating incredible diversity.