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JOHANNES HÜPPI

 

Opening: 19 September 2008, 6:00 - 8:00 pm

Exhibition: 23 September –€“ 4 November 2008

 

 

 

Johannes Hüppi almost exclusively paints women. Women who always wear the same physiognomy. Dressed or naked. Women in natural, in urban or domestic environment. Women alone or with dogs, bears and men–€™s heads. He paints them as long as he can remember. One could describe his art as an erotic obsession and would have said everything. Or would have said nothing. Because it is for their formal explosive force and their compositional density that Hüppi–€™s paintings open a view on interpersonal relationships, which is archaic and absolutely contemporary at the same time.

 

Like in portrayals of antique goddesses and classic images of the Madonna, in the women of Hüppi–€™s pictures inheres something superhuman. Liberated from any expression their faces reflect the viewer–€™s world of imagination. No look, no mimic would constrain the vision with the hint to a proper history. The ageless protagonists of the paintings appear like corporeal archetypes, like emblems of sensuality. Femaleness is examined by the painter in its nativeness as form. What he paints is not a woman, it is the shine of muliebrity. Inpenetrated and incomprehended the woman of his images remains an auratic and a fortiori erotic enigma. Erotism is fantasy. Sensual covetousness turns into transcendental desire. The power of femineity is not restrained until it gets banished into an image and hence cultivated.

 

Embracing the primordially feminine act of creation the artist recreates the feminine body again and again, gives his own facial features to it and confers the plastic quality of soft skin to the surface of the painting. As newly built counterpart, as object of desire and as cultural possession the woman rises like Aphrodite from the waters or shines sleeping against the dark background of Flemish and Dutch painting of the 16th and 17th centuries. Self conscious and aloof in their nudity the women embody the masculine view of the painter, who is also the first addressee of his pictures.

 

His new series of sleeping women Hüppi calls –€œStill lives–€œ. Those resting women lay next to all day life objects like the cup of coffee and the milk cannikin as well as men–€™s heads that seem surreally natural by their side. In fact these constellations against monochrome backgrounds remind of baroque still life painting which emanates from the depiction of curiosities, objects of study and collector–€™s items at the age of discovery. Explicitly, femininity becomes the central object of examination and at the same time mirrors masculine wishes. The women in water of the second new series, on the other hand, –€œemancipate–€ from the small format which the painter exclusively produced for years and grow to life-size. Another new and noticeable aspect of the latter works is the play with perspective. Its inversion irritates the perception of the viewer and –€“ almost self ironically –€“ refers to the constructedness of the representation of femininity.

 

Susanne Husse