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Hinse, Ludger - VM - Grady van den Bosch

Ludger Hinse: Crosses of Light

Crosses of Light

by Grady van den Bosch

As for me, my work is always about touching the soul. Ludger Hinse

A few years ago I was in Bad Honnef (Germany) for the Christian Artists Seminar at the Catholic-Social Institute (KSI). In the lobby my attention was drawn to a large Greek cross hanging loosely in the space. It was made of acrylic glass, in soft colours that changed in the light when it moved. I was touched by the cross. It summarized for me something of the animated, kaleidoscopic feelings I had experienced during the seminar. And it felt like an intermediary between God and me, between my search as an artist and my faith. A few years later I was surprised to see it again at the new location of the KSI in the former Benedictine Abbey St. Michaëlsberg in Siegburg, close to Cologne and Bonn (photo 2).

Via the archbishopric in Cologne I found the maker of this work: the German artist Ludger Hinse. I approached him with a question about his cross on behalf of the art-in-the-church group of my congregation. It turned out that he had made a great number of these crosses and that he called them Lichtkreuze (Crosses of Light). In the meantime I came to know a lot more about these crosses of light and I have come to appreciate their profound and layered character.

Hinse’s crosses can be found in many churches and often constitute an artistic point of particular interest and a place of contemplation and meditation. They measure from 25 cm to 2 meters in height. Hinse uses various colours and techniques in diverse constructions. He keeps his method of designing and making the crosses a secret. He often designs a cross specifically for its location. Sabine Reithmeier (Süddeutsche Zeitung) writes: “His crosses are constructed of panes of variously coloured Plexiglass and radiate warmth, they are sun-drenched and provocatively beautiful.”

Hinse indicates that the cross of light is “not so much an image of the condemned Jesus Christ, his brutal crucifixion and his death, but that his relationship with the cross is one of redemption, surrender, of light that outshines life and death.”

Hinse: “Our faith is not a faith of sin and darkness, but a faith in the light, deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition of the Old Testament. Hinse declares that faith is unfortunately sometimes proclaimed in a very dark and sinister way. “I ask myself: does it have to be the case that Christianity, which began in such a tremendously revolutionary way, now for ever is to be so conservative? We need change. My crosses are dreams of a way to this different mode of being, they are signs of hope. They show us something that goes beyond death, they show us something of the coming world. They show us light and colours, abundance and joy and in that way they offer comfort. They can take away some of the fear of the end of life and show that behind the darkness of death there is light. As Christians we celebrate the victory of eternal life over death. My crosses are an attempt to catch the heavenly light. The cross of light allows us to see that for God death is not a power that can destroy life.”

Ludger Hinse places his crosses of light with great care: “How can I emphasize once again the atmosphere of the church’s space through my work? The ambience of a space is always the first thing to be noticed when you enter a church, not the floor plan, which only becomes clear later. I try to achieve an intensive dialogue between symbol and space by simply hanging and presenting the cross. After the installation, placing or hanging it, sometimes at staggering heights, there is always a rather tense moment to see how the cross functions in the context of the space, the lines of sight, the walking directions of the visitors, the positioning of the altar and of the viewer.”

Hinse’s artistic involvement with the subject of the cross began in 1997 in Chile, when he saw how wives and friends of victims of dictator Pinochet carried a simple wooden cross at demonstrations for their missing loved ones. By carrying the crosses they became invulnerable to military violence. Hinse was so impressed by the power of the cross as symbol that he drew his first cross in Santiago. His crosses developed in the course of years: they became more free, clearer and gained more distance from the original form and meaning. His first crosses were crosses of grief. In 2007 he made his first cross of light. That was the cross that I saw in Siegburg.  

Hinse sees a role for his crosses in the meeting and emotions of people. “The cross that I so often made as a representation of my Christian convictions caused many – sometimes even surprising – emotions. In that way I affected people’s feelings, touching them in their soul and heart. A cross like that helps us to talk about meaningful questions.” 

Hinse considers his crosses and art in general not just as contemplative or aesthetic. He is of the opinion that “art should disturb us and that art is also a kind of mirror of the condition of society and the church.” Hinse: “Art should always be arresting, placing a sign in the middle of a world that is replete with inhumanity and selfishness. We need to believe in the unbelievable, so that change is possible. Art can contribute to that.”

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Ludger Hinse: Lichtkreuze – Crosses of Light: coloured or coated with coloured acrylic glass, 25 cm – 2 m across, various designs, from 2007. Photo 1: www.citypastoral-bonn.de, location: Bonner Münster in Bonn (Germany), Photo 2: Grady van den Bosch, location: KSI Siegburg  (Germany), photo 3: Website Hinse, location: St Mauritz in Münster (Germany), photo 4: Website Hinse, location: St Hedwigkirche in Karlsruhe (Germany). 

Sources: www.ludgerhinse.de, emails of Ludger Hinse, https://www.livenet.ch/themen/kirche_und_co/196613-ludger_hinse_laesst_das_kreuz_leuchten.htmlhttps://www.st-raphael-ka.de/html/lichtkreuz.html?&t=ouurucdqd0ckt8v6en23nth8q7  

Ludger Hinse (1948) lives and works in the city of his birth, Recklinghausen, in the German Ruhr area. His father and grandfather worked in the mines there. Hinse’s studio is situated in a former miners’ site. He is a painter, sculptor and performance artist. He also was a union activist. His work has been exhibited in both Germany and internationally, e.g. in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Chile and Cuba. For more work and locations of his crosses of light, see www.ludgerhinse.de.

Grady van den Bosch has a Masters of Education in Arts. She works out of her own business STUDIO GRADY Art & Art Education as art teacher, freelance instructor in music and artist.  She obtained a Bachelor in School Music at the Hilversum Conservatorium and a Master of Art Education at the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK). One of her study projects researched how Protestant churches connect people with contemporary religious visual arts. She is a committee member of the Platform voor Kerk & Kunst (Church and Art), a member of the work group ArsProDeo and co-ordinator of the team Kunst in de Kerk (Art in the Church) of the Oosterlichtkerk in Huizen. www.gradyvandenbosch.nl

ArtWay Visual Meditation April 14, 2019