The idea behind the exhibition DEUX PIÈCES is a dialogue that overcomes borders, between generations as well as between the local and the global. Starting point are five late Swiss artists – Adolf Wölfli, Emma Kunz, Karl Geiser, Mario Comensoli and Trudi Demut – who all accomplished a lot in their country but did not all achieve international recognition. We invited artists from our gallery to react to their works by creating new works or by choosing existing works that would go well with this project. The invited gallery artists are: Rita Ackermann, Francis Alÿs, Michael Bauer, Raffi Kalenderian, Zilla Leutenegger, Jorge Macchi, Duncan Marquiss, Claudia & Julia Müller, Fabian Marti, Adrian Paci, Bernd Ribbeck, Melanie Smith, Javier Téllez and Andro Wekua. DEUX PIÈCES is the statement of a gallery intending to locate an international artist group as part of an older Swiss tradition. It is a plea for a careful mediation and a declaration of love to art.
Whoever deals with art – be it artist, collector or gallery owner – is doing this primarily because of a strong passion. We all love art because we believe in its additional value, i.e. an ideal value that cannot be bought. Art makes our view more differentiated and enriches our life. Art is an offer. It functions without coercion and, yet, is compulsory. But in the overheated market-events of the last years this kind of liability has been more and more forgotten. Now, that the hot air has cooled and the view become clearer this tendency should be opposed emphatically.
The exhibition will be on show almost simultaneously at our booth in Basel and in our smaller gallery space. The works of Adolf Wölfli, Emma Kunz and Karl Geiser belong to museums and to a private collector and are not for sale, whereas the works of Mario Comensoli and Trudi Demut belong to the respective estates and some are for sale. Most of the other pieces by the gallery artists are new works exclusively made for DEUX PIÈCES.
Adolf Wölfli was born in Berne in 1864 and died in 1930 in the Waldau psychiatric hospital in Berne. His psychiatrist Walter Morgenthaler dedicated his 1921 book «Ein Geisteskranker als Künstler (A Mentally Ill Person as Artist)» to him, which took a schizophrenic patient seriously as an artist for the very first time. Wölflis’ oeuvre consisting of poetry and pictures evades common aesthetic categories and became known to a broader audience only years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the most important artists of Art Brut.
Emma Kunz (1892 - 1963) was working as a healer treating and advising people with the help of telepathy, prophecy and a pendulum. From 1938 on she developed her artistic work using the pendulum to create large drawings on scaled paper that were often geometrically strict and due to their subtle colours very graceful at the same time. Her work was reintroduced into the art world by Harald Szeemann.
Karl Geiser was born in Berne in 1898. He worked mainly as sculptor but also made drawings, etchings and photographies. He was interested in the working classes, in scenes of the everyday life and in a real and direct feeling of life that he pictured in his figurative sculptures stylistically ranging between realism and classicism. He received numerous commissions for public sculptures, but depressions during the end of his life caused him problems in finishing the works. He was found dead in his studio in Zurich in 1957.
Mario Comensoli (1922 -1993) used painting and drawing to critically interrogate social subjects during his whole life. For instance, he thematised and documented the life of the first migrant workers in the 1950s in Switzerland, the women’s movement and the youth riots in the 1970s and 1980s. When he painted workers in their working clothes in the 1960s he was accused of sympathy for social realism –a taboo at the climax of the Cold War. His work remains controversial to this day.
The sculptor and painter Trudi Demut was born in Zurich in 1927 where she also died in 2000. She was a self-taught artist working with bronze and brass, but also with plaster, on canvas and paper. Trudi Demut opposed “women’s art”, nevertheless her art reminds one more of Meret Oppenheim or Louise Bourgeois than of her male contemporaries and her mythical poetical figures are of a fragile and a melancholic serenity.