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Poetry of Transformation - Hans Aeschbach + Daniel Zimmerman
Yujin Kim

Hans Aeschbach: Image as living organism

Changes of state, such as growth and shrinkage, are biological phenomena that Aeschbach often translates into his pictorial compositions. He understands kinetic energy as the impetus for shape change, which is already evident in his works from the 1930s, when metamorphosis was a popular pictorial theme for him. While metamorphosis in his early paintings was defined by a "surreal" alienation, in his later work he understands movement itself as a change of state. His idea of movement as the central impulse for spatial and temporal change originated with Paul Klee, who reflected on artistic creation per se in his preoccupation with the structural affinity between the organic process of growth and pictorial construction. Transformation, a fundamental principle of nature, was highlighted by Aeschbach as the ideal method of design.


Aeschbach's works shown in this exhibition move between sign and free form and associative figure. Especially script-like, calligraphic images result from a drawing gesture and clearly show this graphic quality. The artist's hand movement becomes a sculptural line, the spirited sweeps of drawing give rise to edges, twists, and sometimes random brush marks. Organically vividly contoured formal bodies function like the signal-like composition of signs. Two circles with an arrow create the image of a woman, an oval shape and a circle in the middle create an eye. The round and the wavy lines can be understood as essential forms of the organic or corporeal in view of the painting process, which is characterized by reduction and abstraction: Aeschbach's motifs, such as the female body, hair, fruit, or snail shells, were often rendered in his paintings in a reduced manner by means of round lines and surfaces. Straight lines, on the other hand, have ambivalent roles: sometimes they imply spatial boundaries, sometimes they indicate the direction of movement or the central axis of a growing organic being. The use of opposites on the compositional level, among other things through the clash of round and straight elements, is a typical approach for Aeschbach, which he developed even further in the course of the 1970s. In the composition of straight and curved lines and through the systematic repetition of a certain color sequence or the mirror-image juxtaposition of colors, a certain kinetic energy or form of movement is visualized.


Transformation of the visible: Daniel Zimmermann


Daniel Zimmermann, who advocated the subversive potential of hybridity and transidentity, both in life and in art, gains currency with regard to today's gender discourse. A well-known object artist, he exhibited his work with artists of his generation such as Ian Anüll, Urs Frei, Fischli/Weiss, Adrian Schiess, and Ugo Rondinone. Like many artists of his generation, he was at the center of the youth movement in the 1980s, challenging conventional standards for evaluating art and social norms. In many of his early works, everyday symbols and banal, often industrial everyday objects were playfully and painterly combined and alienated. In the experimental play with the world of consumer goods and mass media, attention is drawn to the accidental establishment of linguistic and pictorial signs, such as pictograms and symbols, and the transformation process of reproduction in the media is reflected upon.


While his early work was characterized by the act of resistance and an ironic attitude, his later work shows more serious, nihilistic motifs that move between resignation and revolt. The series "Knüller" consists of pencil drawings that faithfully reproduce various forms of crumpled paper down to the smallest fold. On the one hand, the crumpled paper draws attention to the artistic process of brooding and failure; on the other hand, the patterns created in the paper during the crumpling process refer in an ironic way to the fact that it is not the artist's brilliant idea but chance that gives rise to a work of art. In his works he often negates the clichéd idea that wants to classify art in the category of the aesthetic and the successful achievement. The "Nivea" series, which depicts a semi-liquid, soft mass in countless formal variations, and the "Eye Drops" series, which traces various forms of drop formation, focus on the states and moments before a form even emerges. Often Zimmermann's titles are misleading in terms of identifying what is depicted, for what is shown need not actually be the Nivea cream or eye drops. Crumpled aluminum foil just peeled off the roll in the series "Heiss halten" shows packaging material, but its function remains uncertain. Despite the virtuosity and attention to detail, Zimmermann's drawings resonate with irritating and provocative questions: Is what is depicted synonymous with what is named? Can ever a pencil sketch perfectly reproduce the materiality of everyday objects? Which perspective and parts of reality can and should a work of art represent?


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