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Rezension von Andrea Bonett8i-Mair: NONOSismus, Mercedes und Franziska Welte

Text: Gertraud Kamml, BA

Franziska und Mercedes Welte. The Making of NONOS

Franziska and Mercedes Welte are now considered specialists in figural, female sculptures, for which they gave birth to the term NONOS.
The sisters have been working together on their oeuvre since 2005.

In the initial phase, they made figurative miniatures out of wire. Over time, the format and size of the works have been fruitfully increased.
NONOS are sculptures with a pronounced feminine silhouette that act as a kind of allegorical symbol of joie de vivre. They represent a congenial fusion between art in its own right and the female primal principles:

Heartfelt love, wisdom as well as beauty and mindfulness paired with creative power are anchored in these works.


The autobiographical life experiences and perspectives of the artists manifest themselves in the formal language and in the coloring. Where the name NONOS comes from and what it is all about is a closely guarded secret.

The name NONOS has been protected by copyright since 2005.

The original principles of the feminine serve as templates. The basic task is therefore to illustrate this creative potential. The NONOS appear self-confident in their aesthetic design language, full of clear inner strength. But they also convey delicate poetry, freedom and independence.

NONOS stand for sensual and joie de vivre and also refer to the cosmological cycle of becoming, being and passing away. It is the great freedom in reception that makes these works so exciting for the viewer and encourages them to actively perceive art.

There is a close bond between the artists and their NONOS.
Fortunately, the refuge, Wellenstein Castle on Lake Constance, offers enough space for a symbiotic community.


Stands now and in the future for a delicate yet powerfully interwoven ensemble of color, shape and movement.
NONOS convey femininity paired with sensual joy and unrestrained life-affirming creativity.
However, they also provide an artistic approach to questions of self-determination and external determination of the present and future.


The fully three-dimensional, all-view sculptures alternate between sub-life-size to larger-than-life works and expansive installations. They begin to oscillate and set their surroundings in energetic vibrations. The new works for the  Giardini della Marinaressa park in Venice impress with their monumental appearance. The elongated sculptures, with their Gothic appearance, retain their graceful, aesthetically balanced design language despite their size. They convey a dematerialized weightlessness. A kind of spiritualization that leads from the earthly to the cosmic realm.

Color arouses strong energetic stimuli in the viewer. The colors arise between heaven and earth, between light and dark, says an Indian sutra.
The tones green and turquoise stand for the sky and the sea, but also for self-awareness, transcendence and spirituality.
As symbols for sea, air and sky, they appear iconic.

The artists Franziska and Mercedes Welte realize in their sculptures anatomical perfection with expansive dynamics that interact directly with the recipient. It is this oscillating feeling of space paired with the smooth, sophisticated color of the surface design that enables the viewer to experience art that appeals to all of the senses. Depending on the viewer’s perspective, there are mysterious reflections and shadows due to the different incidence of light.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes perception as penetrating into the dimension of creation. In phenomenology, reflection is the uncovering of the unreflected. The graceful, floating formal language of the sculptures brings the viewer a transcendent experience of perception. ‘Reception aesthetics’ as a sensual perception of art enables its continuation and ultimately the completion of the open work of art to lie in the eye of the beholder.


“In the age of social media, the smooth is the signature of the present.” The aesthetics of the smooth leads to a kind of ennobling the familiar.

The sensation is a pairing of the gaze with what is seen. Sometimes it requires looking through what is visible in order to track down what is hidden.

The NONOS fuse the polished ideal of beauty with the sensitivity, vulnerability and brokenness to which the beautiful owes its seductive power and eroticism.
The poetry of the beautiful goes hand in hand with lust and joie de vivre.

The delightful dueling of the subline with the beautiful plays a role here.
The elongated and dynamically moving design language refers to the aesthetics of a Gothic one. Beautiful Madonna and in this way underlines the sensually sublime appearance of the sculptures. A pleasant astonishment arises in the viewer. The graceful, well-proportioned exterior and the aesthetic dress of the color create a beauty that awakens feelings of love.


Franziska and Mercedes Welte are always finding new forms of expression. In addition to painting, relief and plastic, they also design furniture and other design objects. The NONOS are widely recognized and can be seen at international art fairs and exhibitions.
The installation by Margravine Agnes was purchased by Klosterneuburg Abbey and will be shown again from May 2019.
The next path leads NONOS to Venice as part of this year’s Biennale!

An exciting liaison, the NONOS, the Giardini della Marinaressa and the sea – it remains exciting!