Jean Pfaff

Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst

During a stay in Rome in 1983–84, Jean Pfaff made a series of small-format, mostly postcard-sized watercolors. These watercolors capture intuitive moods in subtle colors that build on a single, dominant tone, at times recalling the hues of late afternoon shadows or the tonal richness of a weathered facade. Only after his return from Rome did Pfaff assemble these watercolors—originally conceived as individual, abstract pieces—into collages. The watercolors thus became the starting point for new, different works, thereby losing their autonomy but gaining a new dimension. By overlapping the watercolors in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal sequences or layerings, Pfaff creates an illusion of space that is mediated by the subtly competing color-spaces of the individual pieces. To counterbalance the pieces’ tendency to dissolve, he adheres to an austere constructivist composition that still

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