Martin Honert bases his work on the representation of his memories of childhood spent in the Ruhr region of Germany. His early sculptures originate from drawings which the artist made while he was at boarding school; family photographs and illustrations taken from school books are also the source of his sculptures, installations and videos. The illusionist methods of representation he chooses enable him, as he himself explains, to safeguard an image before it completely vanishes from his memory. Honert does not tell stories, he reduces the image “to its purest state”. Each one of his works, with their frank, smooth colours, painstakingly worked surfaces and very careful details, seems to express those certainties we believe in when we are children, that compatibility between things and the words that describe them, between things and the images that depict them. With Riesen (2007), for example, he re-creates the viewpoint of a child through the over-sizing of the scale of the figures. By reducing his initial idea to the essential, and by reverting to archetypical figures through a work involving simplification and objectivization, Honert manages to express something to do with what is experienced and lived, no longer individual, but collective. So his work prompts us to think about the permanence of these references, and the significance of commonplaces. Martin Honert’s artistic stance may appear to be a return to sources, but in reality it is a particularly keen criticism of the deceptions and decoys which are forever coming to light in the adult’s mind, and in his/her social conduct with regard to a political and commercial world.
Born in Bottrop, Germany, in 1953, Martin Honert was educated at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie between 1981 and 1988. He represented Germany at the 1995 Venice Biennale. The Matthew Marks gallery held his first solo show in 1999, and a retrospective of his oeuvre was organized at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden in 2007. He won the Konrad von Soest prize in 2004, and teaches at the Advanced School of Fine Arts in Dresden.