Combining his formal educations in architecture and fine art, Hunziker creates sculptural installations and architectural interventions that invite the viewer to reconsider their own environment: how it is perceived or altered by the structures within. Working with construction materials such as steel, brick and glass as well as manipulated found objects, Hunziker engages directly with the reality of urban space. Brought into a new art context, these materials acquire a new layer of meaning.
In Thinking Things & You, a survey of the artist’s recent work is brought together with work conceived specifically for this exhibition and responding directly to the gallery’s idiosyncratic architecture. The two structural columns at the centre of the gallery are jacketed by walls to create new divisions within the space, shaping it into discrete sections. The pre-existing columns’ intrusion on the clean, white and open gallery is literally extended and emphasised, creating new pathways within the space, building a spatial dramaturgy that drastically alters the viewer’s exhibition experience, and highlighting the often invisible effects of architecture on social space and the human body.
Within this newly divided space, a selection of steel structures function as sculptural investigations into urban architecture. The wall-based compositions are directly inspired by the quirks of urban design; the simplicity of the grid is interrupted by irregularly spaced rectangles and diagonal lines, echoing the way in which, as Hunziker noticed on a visit to London several years ago, concrete paving slabs are cut across on pavements to adjust for different levels. Painted white and jutting out inches from the wall behind, these pieces have an extremely light physical presence. They are rather designed to draw attention to the areas of shadow and luminescence generated on the walls behind them. Meanwhile, a free-standing steel and glass structure provides a different echo of the same urban landscape, this time taking its cue from the market stalls that line streets across London, stripped back to their skeleton assembled form.
Underlying Hunziker’s concern with architectonics is a sense that form is a powerful force in the shaping of our conscious realities. ‘Thinking’ about ‘things’ unlocks an understanding of how inanimate objects and materials may contain their own rationality and agency. Drawing on the avant-garde art historical tradition of using and manipulating found materials (objets trouvés manipulés), in this exhibition Hunziker presents also two objects which, when encountered, seemed to the artist to possess this active, conscious power. The first is a shell, discovered on Mexico’s Pacific coast, whose organic form when cleaned and suspended in front of a gallery wall seems to reveal new possible shapes and figures. Similarly, a woollen patchwork blanket, stretched taut like a canvas and framed behind glass, reveals an unexpectedly organised geometry. For a moment, the external world of forms in space seems to convey something of inner consciousness and experience.