SPOOKY SENTINELS Stephen Sokoloff
Arrayed in a semicircle, Manfred Kielnhofer’s ghostly “time guardians” seem to have abandoned themselves to infinite sadness. What do the life-sized polyester figures represent? Are they bereaved women, meditating monks or nuns or premonitory spirits sent to warn us of impending dangers? Are they supposed to inspire awe, compassion or fear? The artist refuses to tell us why he created them and if we dare to peer inside their cloaks we discover only black emptiness.
The garments with their many folds are vaguely reminiscent of those sculpted by Rodin. Although the first ones Kielnhofer molded were gray and drab, many of the newer generation display bright colors and cheerful patterns. The artist now plans to equip some of them with interior lighting. To emphasize their timelessness he photographs them in front of both ancient castles and modern high-rises, usually at night.
Manfred Kielnhofer, 41, has been operating the gallery “Art Park” in Linz, Austria, since 2005. He is an abstract painter who used a naked female body as a “canvas” for one of his best works. Under his guidance 1,500 eager youngsters produced the largest children’s painting in the world (3,300 m²), which was displayed at many different places in Austria. Another of his gigantic masterpieces (40,000 m²) was composed of sunflowers and other herbs which had been planted in the middle of a field of grain near the city of Enns. It could be best viewed from the sky, but unfortunately the pilot Kielnhofer hired decided to fly off on vacation before most of its “pixels” had blossomed and the farmer had to harvest the creation before he returned.