The opening of our exhibition of art by Franz Gertsch (*1930) coincides with the completion of his masterful 'Four Seasons Cycle'. Although the Kunsthaus includes this last among the pieces on show, it goes well beyond it to present a retrospective of Gertsch’s work since the 1980s. Franz Gertsch, among Switzerland’s leading contemporary artists, has acquired outstanding international renown with his hyper-realist paintings as well as with his woodcuts, unique both technically and in format. From his breakthrough at documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972 to the presentation of his art at the 1999 and 2003 Venice Biennale, his is an opulent oeuvre in the media of both painting and graphic arts. For Gertsch, reality means challenge, not only in the visual sense but conceptually as well. And although he works from photographs, his pictures follow their own internal logic in their quest for absolute harmony of all elements. His watchword as he paints is purity of material: from the paints themselves, often comprised of minerals such as lapis lazuli, azurite and malachite,to bonding agents, canvas and handmade Japanese paper, all is carefully selected with an eye to the project in question. For their part, Gertsch’s woodcuts may fairly be called one of a kind. With heretofore unknown precision of execution – in both engraving and printing – and in monumental formats that push the edge of the envelope (literally) when it comes to papermaking, Gertsch has lent a traditional medium new dimensions.
The exhibition, mounted in close collaboration with the artist, offers a comprehensive survey of Franz Gertsch's work over the last thirty years.