Critics’ Picks

Haus, 2002

Haus, 2002


Uwe Wittwer

Fabian & Claude Walter Galerie
Rämistrasse 18
September 27–November 9, 2002

Uwe Wittwer's large-format paintings at a newly opened Zurich gallery are marked by a puzzling tension: In one, a pale exterior wall is topped by a gabled roof typical of a dull Swiss suburb, while dandelions glow vividly from the front yard. Across the gallery, a row of black-and-white forest landscapes appear familiar yet strange, like regions in a dream. Common to all is a slight blurriness—as if a thin film of water covered the pictures’ surface. With these works, the forty-eight-year-old Swiss artist—whose watercolors and oil paintings have slowly gained recognition over the last twenty years—has pushed his “interrogation of the painting” beyond the methods of peinture. Though he works with a deep awareness of tradition—the blurred gray forest, for example, quotes Jacob van Ruisdael's (1628–82) landscape paintings—recently he has produced ink-jet prints, composed on a computer, and printed on watercolor paper. This particular process involves downloading source imagery from the Internet and removing the sharp contours of the “original.” Evoking but avoiding the sublime gestures of painting, Wittwer creates a place between presence and absence—something, perhaps, like the no-man's-land that surrounds big cities. Technology has brought Wittwer's painterly investigations to a different level, as he moves ever further from objectivity toward abstraction. Yet the sensuality of his imagery remains.

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.