Helmut Sturmer
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An Artist Dedicated to Drawing
By Luminita Batali

We begin in a rather paradoxical manner the presentation of one of the most important Romanian scene designers, because, first of all, what strikes at the extraordinary exhibition dedicated to the artist and hosted by the National Theater, is the explicit and powerful graphic sign, the drawing that confers shape and structure to these things that are initially perceived in the imagination, as one of the founders of the modern stage design, Edward Gordon Craig, once said. We would also want to express the fact that we had the pleasure to see a top-level success in one of the most difficult attempts, namely the making of a stage design exhibition. This is because, as a matter of fact, it is only on stage and during the dramatic progress of the show that the stage design reaches its complete value. But here, Helmuth Sturmer's genius benefited from the genius of another great Romanian creator and stage designer, Vittorio Holtier, who, at the initiative of Marina Constantinescu, presented drawings and images from Hemult Sturmer's creation laboratory to the public, as well as photographs from shows, accompanied by the sketches that led to their graphic completion. Thus, we could view the genesis of the show Mutter Courage, the famous Bertold Brecht’s play, from 1998 - Vienna Burg Theatre, we watched and greedily enjoyed exploring each drawing and color detail, and the symbols that the artist used in order to create the suggestive atmosphere necessary to drama.
Stage design is an extremely difficult discipline, because the artist must face, so to speak, the temptation to say too much, to create a spectacular graphicalness, which may happen to be in the forefront, to the drama's detriment. With extraordinary virtuosity in obtaining atmosphere, from chromatics in light design and in objects' invention and artistic execution, Helmuth Sturmer proves a highly flexible fantasy, dedicated to the theatrical act. Thus, we noticed the conception of the cart that accompanies Mutter Courage all along the play and… could it have been found a more explicit symbol of the upside downs of a world at war than the upside down trees placed in the superior part of the scene, during some of the acts of the play? We wouldn't want to pass to another chapter where the artist charms our thought and eye, which is the one of costumes, without reminding here the dragon created as a sort of toy-crane for the show “The Winter's Tale” by Shakespeare, directed by Silviu Purcarete at the Oslo Theatre.
As for the costumes, we would like to point out one of the most expressive images: that of Ubu, for a Romanian show directed by Tompa Gabor, where the artist describes the grotesque character by means of his costume, with a hardly bearable sarcasm. Thus, we can see a three-color (the ones of the national flag) hemmed t-shirt, a perfect allusion to the contemporary demagogy, completed by women's underwear that accompanies in fact a masculine anatomy. A key for a visual reading of the Jarry's play protagonist, a point of real support for the actor in the composition of the part.
Helmuth Sturmer worked with the greatest Romanian directors, such as Vlad Mugur, Andrei Serban, Lucian Pintilie, Silviu Purcarete, Tompa Gabor, he was laureate of many and prestigious awards in the country and abroad and, for those craving for art made with reflexive refinement and clarity spirit, his creation represents a stable guide mark.

This text was presented in the Fine Arts radio broadcast, December 2nd, 2006.
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