Alex Hanimann

Centre Genevois de Gravure Contemporaine

Rhythmically placed groups of numbers from 0 to 9 marked the one hundred sheets of a linoleum cut edition, printed in red and black and framed, which Alex Hanimann placed on three walls of the gallery. While there is an indifference to individual numbers, certain groupings are readily identifiable: 1492, 1789, 1933, etc. As quickly as these historical dates promise an overall context, they just as quickly dissipate into plays on other numbers within a field of number codes. Arithmetic series, product codes, personal dates, betting numbers from horse races, or the lottery are all evoked. The red accents of individual sheets represent another ordering system. There is no single system. Finally, there is only the ordering of the images that produces a tension with the other systems, suggesting a multiplicity of meanings. The singularity of meaning is contrasted with the unlimited possibilities of a number’s signification.

“One thing is always identical with another when it shows—at least according to a certain description—the same characteristics as the other.” The French version of this anonymous quote was printed in reverse on the remaining wall. As a painted quote, the words have become an image within a defined context. Shifting from language to number to image, Hanimann’s works escape the constraints of these categories. Only on the basis of a certain description can two pictures taken from a horse handbook become one entity: representing them in paint preserves differences that can only inaccurately be described by words, and yet, illusionistic painting seems flawed when compared to a photograph.

The themes of breeding and training that Hanimann has used over many years are also present in the numbers series. In the final analysis, Hanimann confronts the viewer with the political possibility that contexts can be formed outside fixed identities.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller