an artistic exploration in the heart of Matera

» The sketch material of the project BORN OF STONE is part of the work created during my first visit to Matera in summer 2015 and a second intensive study visit to the Sassi in February 2018. The drawings of this intensive two-week study phase were executed in different techniques and by the use of various materials: pen, charcoal pencil, pencil, red chalk or ballpoint pen, but also watercolors in different formats on paper. The technical design and size of the works are as diverse as the thematic complexes and motifs of the sketch material, which I understand both as a first conceptual approach to the project’s content and as an independent part of the final exhibitions planned in Matera, Rome and Vienna.


While my first starting point was the human individual, who had to find their way in the brute, rocky environment of Matera, and had to cope with it, I increasingly lost this trace during my ongoing explorations of the Sassi and the steeply sloping gorge - the Gravina. I was particularly fascinated by the quiet and abandoned places recaptured by nature, weather and time: natural caves, deserted churches and hermitages, ruinous houses and apartments in the labyrinth of streets and alleys formed by the soft tufa, which culminated in the cathedral that crowns the old town, the so called cittá. Together, they form that imposing background, in front of which the spectacular symbiosis of man and stone has been taking place for many centuries, and which was constantly present while I executed these mostly direct and quick artworks on paper.


The cycle of arising, becoming and passing, for me manifests itself in Matera more than in any other city, and became subsequently one of the most urgent themes that I tried to capture on my drawings during my walks through the old town and the Gravina. In this archaic play of life and transience, the human organism finds its way back into the motif world: as "metamorph" - as a being merging with and rising within its rocky environment - it revives the deserted streets, caves and places of Matera. In the same way as the surrounding tuff, their (life) form remains subject to a constant transformation.


Better than any further explanation, the following selection of drawings will illustrate the direction my project will take in the upcoming months, but especially where it has led me so far and will lead me from now on as an artist and as a human being. «


Florian Köhler [June 2019]

above: Ruin in the Sasso Caveoso: feather & ink on paper, 35 x 26,8 cm | below: metamorph »Uomo Sasso in Casa Cava« (detail): ballpoint pen on paper, 21 x 14,8 cm.