We Love the Marching returns home

Hans Diebschlag’s controversial painting has been returned home and is once more hanging in Rüsselsheim’s Town Hall.

The event was reported in the press with a photogragh of the re-hanging of the painting, follow this link to read the article in German.  Below is an English translation of the press article.

The artwork “We Love The Marching” by Hans Diebschlag was on loan to the Military History Museum of the Bundeswehr. Now it returns to its traditional place in the Rüsselsheim town hall.

The painting “We Love The Marching” by Hans Diebschlag returns to its place in the city of Rüsselsheim after being loaned to the Military History Museum of the Federal Armed Forces (MHM) in Dresden. The three-part, 5.13 meters wide and three meters high oil painting was installed yesterday in the course of the morning by the art logisticians of the company DB Schenker-Art back in the historic meeting room of the town hall.

The painting was created during the Rüsselsheim Cultural Summer in 1992. The artist Hans Diebschlag, who died in 2014 and spent his childhood and youth in Rüsselsheim, made it in dialogue with citizens in an open studio in the Rüsselsheim park school. With the presentation of the lynching of 1944 as a carnival parade, Hans Diebschlag triggered a broad social debate in Rüsselsheim. Until the end of last year, the painting was part of an exhibition project on “Male War – Female Peace? Violence and Gender “.

“I am pleased that the painting has arrived safely in the Rüsselsheim Town Hall,” says Mayor and Cultural Affairs Dennis Grieser (Green Party). “Because the Diebschlag painting is an important testimony to the reappraisal of a dark phase of the city’s history.”

As all those familiar with the story behind this painting and the controversy it sparked well know that Hans did not represent the lynching as a carnival, he painted a carnival scene but upon learning of the events that occurred on the very street he had depicted he subsequently made reference to them in the painting. A subtle but significant difference.

As Hans wrote in 2014 in reply to an enquiry through his website ” I had a commission in 1992 from the Rüsselsheim town council. I discovered photos of Carnival marching bands in Rüsselsheim in my father’s slide collection. I was painting in my temporary studio in the Parkschule in Rüsselsheim and was nearly finished when I was visited by an old bag lady who started the conversation by asking if I knew what had happened in that street. I did not and she started to relate the events of the lynching of the American POW airmen. Further investigations by friends, Dagmar Eichhorn, August Nigro and film maker Thomas Frickel, gave us a fuller and complex picture of the events in 1944. With this fuller picture of events I completed my painting by incorporating the shadows of the airmen. In addition I painted the Jewish star onto the shadow figures to commemorate the brutalities of the war.”

The painting may be viewed by asking at the town hall although access will not always be possible if the room is in use.

Welcome to January

January (1994)

Over the course of the year 1994 Hans Diebschlag worked on his Calendar or Kalendarium series of 13 paintings, one for each month plus a front cover for the published work.

Here is January the first in the series and below are Hans’s accompanying notes as published with the complete Calendar/Kalendarium set of paintings.

“This painting is the one that is still most indebted to the original idea of a Mandala, and in many ways represents the seminal point of the whole of the annual cycle. Here the motifs, figures and colours that are to accompany me through the year to come appear for the first time.

The four figures, wholly in the role of observers for the time being, are found in the four corners of the painting, sitting on the ice around a frozen lake which is like an eye and which contains, already thawed beneath the ice crust, the germ of the year, the warmth of the heart, the warmth of the summer to come. Skating on the lake we find the Hare and the Hen, Yin and Yang, the perpetually revolving duality.

It is a cold picture. The earth is frozen and turns into stone, the blue and white marble that frames the painting. On the inside, in the depths, is the red city, as the heart chakra in the colour of activity, of pulsating warmth and life. The city is designed in the shape of a cross which symbolises for me the symmetry of the dream city of imagination and fantasy.

The perspective in which cities are depicted in Tibetan pictures – and generally in Asian representations – seems to us Westerners to be oddly distorted and somehow “not right”. On more intense meditative engagement with such a picture however, it turns into a multi-dimensional image and the “wrong” perspective dissolves into a miraculously appropriate, if perhaps unfamiliar, perspective. During this process, the viewer has at the same time taken on a new line of vision, in which he suddenly sees everything as complete and right and in a new inner connection. Thus the picture, like a window, opens a view into other spaces.”

Hans Diebschlag

We Love the Marching in Dresden Exhibition

Hans’s controversial 1992 painting “Wir Lieben das Marschieren”  or “We Love the Marching” is to be shown at Dresden’s Bundeswehr Military History Museum as part of the exhibition “Gender and Violence” or “Gewalt und Geschlecht” that runs  from April 27th to 30th October. Visit their website for more details at http://www.mhmbw.de/

Hans received a commission from Rüsselsheim’s town council for a painting, to hang in the Town Hall in the room used for civil ceremonies. Hans discovered photos of Carnival marching bands in Rüsselsheim in his father’s slide collection and this became the subject of the painting.

He was working in a temporary open studio in Rüsselsheim’s Parkschule and was nearly finished when he was visited by an old Rüsselsheimer who asked him if he knew what had happened in the street he had shown in the  painting. He did not,  so she told him him about the events that had occurred in 1944 when the lynching of a group of American airmen POWs had taken place in that very street. Following further investigation, which confirmed the events and gave a fuller and complex picture, Hans then completed the painting by incorporating the shadows of the airmen in the picture. He also painted the Jewish Star of David onto the shadow figures to commemorate the brutalities of the war.

The controversy the painting created escalated when the picture was later removed from the council chambers for which it was commissioned. These events are fully documented by forum urbanum in Dialogue (2000) and also in the book “Wolfsangel a German City on Trial” by August Nigro.