Zurich

Günter Tuzina

Kunsthalle Zurich

A deliberately reduced vocabulary of color and form lends Gunther Tuzina’s oeuvre its special appeal. This does not necessarily mean that the pictorial possibilities are limited. Within the parameters Tuzina sets, he pursues diverse modes of expression and employs various media: drawing, painting,sculpture, and various hybrids. The fundamental structure of his paintings is based on a vertical rectangle that deviates more or less from the right angle, and that is subdivided horizontally or diagonally. This elementary form, originally derived from the ground plan of a basilica, functions as a schema that unifies the pictorial composition. It is like the promise of an order, but a promise that is not kept. It is the order—the spatial thematic—derived from the rectangular grid that constitutes the subject matter of these pictures. Yet at the very point at which order is generated it already dissolves. Charged with this underlying tension, it soon becomes apparent that the conceptual component of these works is only one aspect of Tuzina’s project—the rational basis, against which he plays out his pictorial intuition.

Tuzina’s art is revealed most impressively in the huge mural that he designed especially for this space. On a painted green monochromatic ground, he chalks his familiar oblong rectangle with both a horizontal and a diagonal division. The right half of the drawing was done on a red ground. The tension triggered by the complementary colors becomes particularly irksome at the midpoint of the wall. The right-hand red field, very subtly, at first almost imperceptibly, disrupts the equilibrium evoked by the centrally arranged composition. Furthermore, the grid evokes a faint hint of a spatial perspective that subliminally challenges the solidity of the support.

The canvas paintings, which make up the bulk of Tuzina’s oeuvre, are more complex. The pictorial play forms a tension with the canvas, which is not predefined, and which, in a sense, continually hovers between its flatness and its object quality. Tuzina often resorts to clusters of interrelated canvases, so that the pictorial concept seems to take a back seat: the unvarying motif involuntarily emphasizes the support. This is not unproblematic, especially when the depth and multiple layers of paint visible along the edges are suffocated by the overall dull green. Here Tuzina sacrifices the free breathing of the picture to the straitjacket of his concept, or, if you prefer, transparency to lucidity.

Max Wechsler

Translated from the German by Joachim Neugroschel.