Gérard Traquandi & la Donation Albers-Honegger: Contrepoint
Artists: Josef Albers, Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Eduardo Chillida, herman de vries, Helmut Federle, Marcia Hafif, Gottfried Honegger, Imi Knoebel, František Kupka, John McCracken, Henri Michaux, Olivier Mosset, Aurelie Nemours, Ulrich Rückriem, Gottlieb Soland, Niele Toroni, Gérard Traquandi, Adrian Schiess, Marcel Wyss.
The eac. offers an expanded vision of Art Concret* through different hangings of the Donation Albers- Honegger, accenting historical, social, or formal themes.
Since the summer of 2017, l'eac has proposed rereadings of the collection as seen by an individual artist, placing a selection of their work face to face with works from the Donation. After Carlos Cruz-Diez in 2017, and Pablo Picasso in 2018, Gérard Traquandi assumes the role of curator in 2019 with his exhibition, Contrepoint.
This French artist conceived his project like a musical score. Distancing himself from the aesthetic and social radicalism of the early twentieth century avant-garde, he plays with various dogmas and historical classifications to take advantage of the paradoxes
in the collection.
«The Manifesto of Art Concret was written at a time when a dogmatic approach was necessary to be seen as seriously incarnating modernism. I look
at that without nostalgia. Excluding any imitation
of nature was part of those artists’ position. It is time to take a relative view of this posture. Paradoxically, the collection of Gottfried Honegger and Sybil Albers is an example of this [...].
I know the collection well so there were not many surprises for me. It offers a much larger panorama.
than its name suggests. Art Concret appears to be more of a question than a formal answer within the context of the collection which might be more aptly titled At the frontiers of Art Concret. I don’t know if these terms would have pleased Gottfried Honegger and Sybil Albers, but the romantic and sentimental aspects of their collection hits me between the eyes. The intellectual and the emotional are convoked simultaneously. I have attempted to reflect this complexity.»*
«Contrepoint» seems to be the most appropriate way to define Gérard Traquandi’s project. The works presented do not speak with the same voice, but they create a harmonious whole whose richness comes from their combination. His work, while appearing abstract or monochrome, is rooted in the sensory, real world.
The artist immerses himself in nature, retaining sensations and memories which he evokes with different mediums. Through the texture and the quality of the material, he traces a path towards the light.
Gérard Traquandi’s sensorial approach would seem to contradict the rationality and objectivity of Art Concret. Yet, the artist recognizes a certain affiliation with this movement: the role of architecture and the space in which a work is presented, or the deliberate distance established by the artist vis a vis his work.
Conscious of the role of architecture, Gérard Traquandi superposes his proposition on the ascending path
the visitor takes through the Donation Building (Architects: Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer, 2004).
«Once you have crossed the threshold, the layout seems more baroque than the exterior structure suggests. The route one should take is not evident; the visitor chooses between several possible directions and must turn back on his path several times. The feeling of immersion that this provokes creates a complicity with the works, making one feel more like a guest than a tourist—a situation rare enough to be pointed out. Throughout the building, large windows offer occasions to observe the surrounding pine trees from their roots to their summits and, in the last room, to glimpse the sky. »
Gérard Traquandi uses this dialogue with nature
in order to question the very foundations of painting. The path continues, exploring issues linked to the history of painting (Mannerism, Impressionism) as well as themes dear to the artist.
«[...] I feel very at ease in this artistic environment. Most of the artists gathered here, Imi Knoebel, Helmut Federle, John McCracken, Jean-Pierre Bertrand,and Adrian Schiess, are part of the family I have chosen. When I am with them, I feel less alone. Their ability to produce so much beauty with such an economy of means makes me love them more than ever.»
* Art Concret is an artistic movement of geometric abstraction, originally founded in 1930 by Théo Van Doesburg. Since the name does not really translate into English, the term is left in French throughout the text.
** The remarks of Gérard Traquandi quoted in the text are taken from an interview with Fabienne Grasser-Fulchéri (November 2018).