Rémy Zaugg

05 Sep - 08 Oct 2005

September 6-October 8, 2005

Rémy Zaugg is widely known for his object-like text paintings that involve the viewer in a complex discussion on perception and pictorial representation as well as the relevance of modernistic abstract painting. Starting with his “Perceptive Sketches” on Cézanne’s painting “The House of the Hanged Man” (1873) Zaugg has systematically developed the relation between artwork and viewer as the central topic of his art. In his works perception is conceived as a process in which the viewer participates in the construction of the artwork and ideally obtains awareness of himself as a perceiving and constructing subject. Supplementing his interests in painting and transgressing the very discipline, he started to explore the spatial and contextual conditions of the display of art. Zaugg curated exhibitions and museums displays, developed extensive public projects, and collaborated in the field of architecture and urbanism mainly with architects Herzog & de Meuron. With his critical and analytic writing the artist established himself as a relevant voice in recent art theoretical thinking. His essay “Das Museum, das ich mir erträume” (1986) has had a major impact on contemporary museum’s architecture.
Rémy Zaugg conceived the exhibition “ABOUT DEATH II” for Galerie Nordenhake and has made several new works consisting of three, four, five or six paintings. They belong to his recent major series “About Death II”. Like most of his works, the paintings are executed in auto-lacquer on aluminum and show no trace of having been touched by a human hand. Unlike the paintings “About Death I”, whose saturated colors unleash an extremely physical experience, the works of “About Death II” have bright, nearly kitschy colors that playfully contrast with the colored texts. Some list the names of flowers, plants, or mosses that recall themes of life’s transience found in 17th Century Dutch still-life paintings. Others ask “AND IF / DEATH / I WERE” and confront these lines with words like “LIPS / FINGERS” or “WHITE / TEETH”. Reduced to objects of colors and words the paintings generate an intellectual and physical experience.
Needless to say death sets an inevitable end to the artwork understood as process. It is not only an obstacle to perception, like blindness, a topic Zaugg has analyzed in a former series of paintings, but it’s diametric opposite. The sensual paintings of the series “About Death II” seem to celebrate life and consider the possibility of an eternal art that outlives us all, the classical idea of ars longa, vita brevis — but only if there is a future viewer. Rémy Zaugg’s art is not an autonomous entity; it exists exclusively in and through it’s dialogue with the viewer.

Rémy Zaugg was born 1943, in Courgenay, Switzerland. He died after a short period of illness on August 23, 2005. Zaugg has exhibited extensively since the early Seventies. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum for Samtidskunst, Oslo, 2004, Le Consortium, Dijon, 2003, MMK Frankfurt/Main, 2002, and Kunsthalle Bern, 2000. In the last years he participated in numerous groups shows like, PROLOG und MISSION OF ART Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 2005, Herzog & de Meuron Nr. 250, Schaulager, Basle, Arte y utopía – La acción restringida Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, both 2004, Warum! Bilder diesseits und jenseits des Menschen, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin Einbildung. Das Wahrnehmen in der Kunst, Kunsthaus Graz, both 2003, and ...troubler l’écho du temps, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, 2001.
This year a comprehensive monograph authored by Gerhard Mack was published by Fondation Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean Luxembourg.

Tags: Herzog & De Meuron, Rémy Zaugg