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Artist Portrait (Dr. Christian Lechelt), in: New Ceramics. The international Ceramics Magazin, 2/21, S.21 ff

Regarding nature as a mentor and a source of inspiration for art is an eternal law that has applied  since humans executed first cave paintings and formd the first lump of clay, not for practical use but as a message and (self-)referential as well as reflexive representation, and thus to find a form of expression. Translation the seen into something to be seen with the artist as catalyst, filter and creator ist he principle of artistic practice.

Munich Artist Keiyona Stumpf allows the viewer to participate in the (apparent) processuality of her works in her very special, wondrous way that in particular grows from the restricted nature of the materials – her works do not seem to be final or finished. Rather a before and after smoulders in them, we stand before a snapshot in time that is contradicted by the hardfired ceramic material and the solified glaze but that only thus enables their perceptibility. It is no simple task to describe what one actually perceives here. Everywhere, associations run wild and overwhelm one meaning that has just been grasped with a new one. The apparently biologistically used vocabulary used here points to the essence: Stumpf is concerned with a reflection on nature and approaches this comprehensively. It is not about a meticulously detailed representation of an apprehended phenomenon. What has been seen serves as a point of entry to penetrated into depths of organic processes and structures. The complex systems fundamental to living things fascinate her, whether as the interaction of the organs in a (human) body or the idiosyncratic rationality of a fungal mycelium. In our contemporary world of hygiene and desinfection, the supposed chaos of the natural growth an decay is thought of with aesthetic reservations and often calls forth revulsion and disgust. This is one reason Stumpf´s works and installations disconcert at first sight. Yet at the same time, distress becomes fascination and the deeper the involvement with one of her works, the more the beauty develops. And this is what the artist is principally concerned with, as she puts it herself: „The infinite repertoire of phenomena in nature contains vast beauty and complexity which can be traced down to the smallest detail. I have always admired this profoundly, accompanied by the question of which creative principle lends all these phenomena their ultimate form and makes them grow in their aliveness and then decay. Even forms that may cause a sense of revulsion or even fear may reveal their beauty to the eye on closer examination.“

The choice and use of materials are major constituents of Stumpf´s art. In recent years, ceramic materials especially stoneware and porcelain, have taken an ever greater role, in combination with flowing or crystal glazes in strong colours and textures. Yet in her work, glass, paper, plastic film, plaster, textiles, synthetic resin, wax and even chewing gum are to be found. She concludes that these are materials not normally found in the sculptural „end product“. Additionally, she combines associations of the ephemeral and fragile with the soft and malleable. The increased use of stoneware and porcelain may well have to do with the less problematic nature of ceramic materials from a conservator´s point of view (restorers in the future will certainly thank her). On the other hand, they also offer the working potential and expressive qualities the artist desires. Within the bounds of stability, the potential for forming is infinite, allowing the interplay between heaviness and lightness, block-like closed forms and delicate elaboration. Further, the glazes do not appear as a layer applied to the ceramic body but enliven the looping, coiling forms like blood pulsing in the veins. This impression is enhanced by the structures of the glazes  that preserve the fluidity of the melting process through their solified momentariness.

In describing Stumpf`s works, anatomical an biological terms impose themselves involuntarily, which shows how effectively and skillfully her artistic approach communicates itself, especially without any word of explanation. The focus quickly penetrates the niches, hollows and deformities, gliding away from the initially perceived, only seemingly symmetrical ornamentation.

As a second source of inspiration – and this is a fairly safe assumption- one would like to identify the Baroque and Rococo sculpture of the late 17th and 18th centuries. Her Bavarian home is well known to be saturated with outstanding examples from this era. And indeed, the delicate formations of  her sculptures are reminiscent of the polymorphic rocaille spreading up the interior walls of churches and palace halls like coral. And the metaphysis of morbidity, so characteristic of the art of  the Baroque especially in church furnishings, can also be traced in pieces like Kumulation in secularised by now less transcendental form. Strings of heavy beads, glazed in deep red, connect two rosette-like, perforated relief forms, hanging down like drops of blood, reminiscent at the same time of rosary beads. They might equally be inspired by the opulent jewellery of pearly and precious stones found in reliquaries. The reliefs are like oculi to a hidden world, with outgrowths swelling around a hollowed centre, drawing the viewer´s gaze hypnotically into the depths.

Stumpf`s pleasure in working with largescale installations can be reflected upon via this relationship with the past. One group of works was even made as a concrete response to historical sources. For the exhibition `Im Dialog´, which narrates the history and present of the eponymous porcelain manufactory, founded in 1747, and which presents the most comprehensive relevant collection of porcelain, she intervened in the Museum Schloss Fürstenberg in 2020. She drew inspiration there from the history-steeped location and the collection of historic porcelain to enter into an artistic dialogue. The exhibition drew ist special attraction from the fact that the artist´s exhibits were integrated in the Museum`s permanent collection, lending it an additional dimension but also giving themselves a referential level. Yet she managed to avoid seeing her own work as a mere commentary. This approach can be clearly recognised in the group of works, Statuettes, which was inspired by the display of dozens of plaster moulds from production of the manufactory in one of the museum´s halls. These over thirty pieces seem serially produced, a reference to the used plaster mould from the production process. But in contrast to the porcelain from a manufactory, which has as ist aim to produce identical pieces impossible to distinguish from each other, Stumpf´s works that refer to them are individual characters, which through their lifelike disparities and intentional imperfections (or their apparent flaws) pose the question of the sense of perfected serial production which today has become standard. (...)

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