Vagabondage En Rouge
Exhibition of New Works in Mixed Media
by Gertrude Degenhardt
30th August - 19th September 2002
Dedicated to the memory of Martin Degenhardt
Comments made by Dr. Corinna Hauswedell at the Opening of Vagabondage En Rouge
Liebe Gertrude, Liebe Annette, Dear friends and admirers of Gertrude Degenhardt's fine and virtuoso art!
Today it is not just another exhibition of her work - famous throughout Ireland and beyond - that I once more have the honour to open here at Kennys. And I am not going to waste your time with another attempt to explicate or interpret these gorgeous images of women in music - Vagabondage en Rouge - as they apparently well speak and dance for themselves. No need to carry coals to Newcastle, or Eulen nach Athen (owls to Athens), as we say in German, or Gertrude to Galway - that has been done already. And there is a great catalogue available with this exhibition which may just as well do the job of introducing the artist' s work to those who are newcomers.
What makes today's event such a special occasion to me and many other good friends of the artist and her family is the fact that this is her first exhibition in Ireland without Martin her beloved husband who died some three months ago in their cottage here in Shannagurraun. Tom Kenny has dedicated this exhibition to the memory of Martin - please allow me to follow and warmly embrace this idea.
For this purpose, and to make it easier for me to talk about the friend and address some of my thoughts to you I have brought along an early picture of Gertrude which she made in 1970. Those were times of radical political change in many regions of the world, artists supported then peoples activities for peace, freedom and democracy. Gertrude fabulously illustrated Francois Villon's revolutionary Great Testament.
The picture I brought and which can be looked at in the back staircase of the exhibition, a lovely self portrait of the artist's family - you see Gertrude, Annette, and Martin dancing on top of wheat field - was in one of her first exhibitions at my father's gallery in Germany. We purchased the picture and ever since it has been hanging in a prominent place at my home. For me this picture where Martin, if you look close enough, appears in more than one manner carries the whole story:
- Love as the most powerful source of any enduring inspiration,
- an ease and lightness you will only develop if you are well founded,
- the subtlety and depth of a genius,
- the seasons of life and nature from birth to harvest,
- the winds of change,
- and the artist's amazing talent and gift, her technique and skills to make all this visible to us.
Gertrude Degenhardt today may look different from those days, both in persona and in her images. But take the chance for a second look. What you will find is a clearly discernible bow - the bow of music and humanity - bridging from the deep layers of the early etchings and black ink tones to the most expressive and exuberant red of the brush drawings we are enjoying here today!
Like other great professionals Gertrude never followed any trend or fashion, neither did Martin, the careful conductor of his family's geniuses - wife and daughter. Create and recreate your own vision and style by responding to the changes of life. A vagabondage - always with a great sense of humour, a light sarcasm perhaps at times, never cynicism though - and with an open heart and mind for their friends.
It has been a privilege to be a friend of the Degenhardt family throughout all the years, and I am very thankful that Martin asked me almost eight months ago would I open this exhibition here today.
Those who have embraced us with their empathy, their love and spirit truly never go.
So, please let me amend my initial statement: This is not an exhibition without Martin. Here is right here - present among all of us with his inspiration.
I'd wish to close with a variation of Francois Villon's Great Testament final ballad. I am sure he will forgive me the wee amendment.
For Gertrude in German:
Prinz, auch sein Ende ist erzählenswert.
Ich will's Euch schildern, wenn Ihr es begehrt.
Mit einem Becher Rotwein hat er sich erquickt,
in einem Zug. Dann ist er eingenickt,
eh' dieser Welt er - nimmermüd - den Rücken kehrt
The Prince, indeed, it's worth to talk about his end.
Let me tell you if you have an ear to lend.
He drank the red wine just to be refreshed.
And then he fell into a nap
Before he - never tired - turned his back.
Vagabondage en Rouge is opened.
Dr. Corinna Hauswedell