Vibrant and seductive, with reduced motifs and precisely contoured forms which are clearly the result of well-considered artistic decisions: Markus Weggenmann’s current exhibition includes an ostentatiously colourful group of works ranging from small-scale portrait formats to large-scale pieces in which each colour occurs in great strength. Geometric formations and closed shapes in primary colours full of character meet lighter hues, sometimes contrasting with strong complimentary colours. In the large-scale works, amorphous shapes in blue, red or brown encounter uncompromising black or white, as though the colours were negotiating their status amongst themselves.
Markus Weggenmann’s pictorial operations draw attention to richly contrasting surface stimuli and offer fragmentary, semi-figurative references, which flare up briefly like vague memories. However the thing-related associations cannot be so easily reconciled with the abstract-geometric character of the paintings. The title metaphor ‘death by colour’ is not coincidental: the intensive density of shape and colour in the paintings always precludes a figurative form of seeing and reading, which is unusual in the sense that figuration typically dominates perception.
Markus Weggenmann’s explorations begin without a specific plan, using quickly executed brush marks on small-format paper. These gouaches are processed with digital programmes on the computer and then transferred onto canvas with weakly mixed, pure colour pigments. Thus the resulting paintings are already mediated and at the same time, by means of abstraction, cite the visual effects that permeate all aspects of visual communication in our daily lives via the possibility of digital drawing programmes – such as playing with highlights and the suggestion of three-dimensional corporeality. While the way colour behaves in each computer image is based on precisely calculated chromatic values that each pixel is assigned regardless of environment, in Markus Weggenmann’s work, the haptic materiality of the application of colour is in every respect influenced by what surrounds it and therefore enters into new, thoroughly appealing places: into space, into art and the multitude of images that permanently surround us. In other words: death by colour!
(text: Birgit Effinger / translation: Rosemary Hogarth)
MARKUS WEGGENMANN, born 1953 in Singen/Hohentwiel, Germany.
He lives and works in Zurich und Lumnezia, Switzerland.