Helmut Schweizer
Helmut Schweizer
ATOMIC ELEGY . HARD – BOILED WONDERLAND Part I (detail), 1985 – 2013
mixed media
courtesy of Galerie Rupert Pfab, Düsseldorf

HELMUT SCHWEIZER / MELANCOLIA. 8/6 – 3/11. A CHI DI COMPETENZA / January 11th – February 15th, 2014 / Galerie Rupert Pfab

Galerie Rupert Pfab is pleased to present the exhibition Helmut Schweizer – MELANCOLIA. 8/6 – 3/11. A CHI DI COMPETENZA.

The concept and action artist Helmut Schweizer (*1946), whose subject matter is largely dominated by the natural sciences and their history, focuses intensively on the threats of nuclear technology and the way society deals with these. Like Walther Benjamin's "Angel of History", he looks into the past, which is determined by human civilisation and its technology, and in doing so exposes much of what was once considered to be progress as catastrophe. When it comes to his critical observations in the field of tension between nature, culture and civilisation, he is first and foremost merely a dedicated collector of facts with all their details. Inspired by this knowledge gained over the course of numerous decades, he then consistently develops new works of visual art, whereby his intentions are never moral.

Helmut Schweizer studied painting, philosophy and art history in Karlsruhe from 1967 through 1973, at a time when the Düsseldorf-based artist Joseph Beuys exerted a great influence on the discourse of contemporary art. Inspired by Beuys' actions, Helmut Schweizer was already striving to transgress boundaries in art and, to this day, continues to make use of the most varied media and materials in the aesthetic realisation of his goals. He creates complex installations and scenarios, within which the laboratory is a central motif. He combines early works from the 1970s which focused on the study of plants, exposing them to chemical processes and photographing them together with large furnishings, equipped with fragile glass containers. These held luminous, chemically reactive fluids and other ephemeral substances, which visualize time by means of oxidation and decomposition. Installation works such as these are combined with complex collages of images, colours and texts with references to important scientists of the 20th century, as well as music, literature and especially the visual arts. Helmut Schweizer quotes artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Caspar David Friedrich, Hieronymus Bosch and Giorgio de Chirico. In his recent works on paper, press images of the nuclear disasters in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima merge together with woodcuts by the Japanese artist Hiroshige and works by the Surrealists Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp.

The exhibition "Melancolia" in Galerie Rupert Pfab continues on the themes presented in the installation "Atemwende" (Turning Point of Breath), which Helmut Schweizer presented in the exhibition "LABORATORIUM" in the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg in 2010. In the first space of the gallery, he will also present one of his earliest works from the 1960s, "Berg & Wolke" (Mountain and Cloud), which forms a kind of prelude to the main installation. This work consists of a space lit with black light and equipped with glass display cases glowing with uranin, which both captivates and irritates the viewer simultaneously, as well as a large "laboratory" with furnishings and large-scale works on paper. Both spaces deal with the nuclear disaster of Fukushima as the tragic result of the discovery of atomic energy in the late 19th century.

Helmut Schweizer is represented in numerous international collections, including the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, and participated in the "documenta IX", curated by Jan Hoet in 1992, as well as other significant exhibitions in important museums. In 2010, the Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg presented a comprehensive retrospective. He will also participate with a large-scale installation in the exhibition "Kunst und Alchemie – Das Geheimnis der Verwandlung" (Art and Alchemy – The Mystery of Transformation), which will take place in the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf in 2014 in conjunction with the "Quadriennale" of the State Capital of Düsseldorf.

Artist Talk in conjunction with the Düsseldorf Photo Weekend on Saturday February 1st, 2014, 17 h., moderated by Dr. Dedo von Kerrsenbrock-Grosigk (Curator, Museum Kunstpalast)

Galerie Rupert Pfab / Poststraße 3 / D-40213 / Düsseldorf, Germany
T: +49 211.13 16 66

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