Werner von Mutzenbecher “Impromptus”
5 September – 24 October 2015
The artist Werner von Mutzenbecher (b.1937 in Frankfurt am Main) lives and works in Basel. His oeuvre to date is extremely multifaceted. Along with painting, his artistic work also includes film and writing.
Even while studying philosophy and German language and literature at the University of Basel, he was already working as an artist. After completing his training at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule Basel, he began to work as a professional fine artist. Stays in Paris and Rome followed. The stations of his career have included serving as interim head of the Kunsthalle Basel, teaching at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule and heading the class for fine art at the Schule für Gestaltung Basel.
In his own work Werner von Mutzenbecher is concerned with repeatedly discovering something new. This element also finds expression in his current exhibition “IMPROMPTUS” at the Galerie Gisèle Linder. The works on paper show geometric figures in extremely diverse variations. Some of them display cubic forms that confuse us through the isometrics applied in them. The new large-format paintings are remarkable for their radical two-dimensionality. A reductive tonality is common to all of them. Black and white dominate, with various shades of grey between them. They are joined only by a forceful red or, less frequently, blue.
Geometry has long accompanied Werner von Mutzenbecher and it is repeatedly updated in his work. In this context the focus is not on mathematics but on experimentation with perception. The suggestion of space stands in the foreground. Viewers are animated to discover this space for themselves. The model-like aspect of the works additionally allows their dimensions to be shifted freely in the imagination. A further important element is the exposure of the mechanisms operating in the works and, to the same extent, the painter’s craft in itself.
If his oeuvre is looked at as a whole, it becomes apparent that the artist is highly fascinated by oppositions. It is not just the contrasts of colour but also the reactions that emerge between pairs of opposites, such as complex/simple, front/back, inside/outside. For Werner von Mutzenbecher his works do more than represent geometrical forms: they are figures that tell a story. This can also be observed in his paraphrases of existing paintings. Here the artist gains inspiration from sources including Renaissance painting as well as Japanese and Ancient Egyptian art. What remains is the essence of an image in its simplest form.
Marina Huonker, August 2015
Translation : Michael Wetzel