Kesselhaus Josephsohn
Galerie Felix Lehner AG
Kesselhaus Josephsohn
Galerie Felix Lehner AG

Löwenbräu Zurich:

An exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, curated by Peter Märkli

March 27, 2010 to May 29, 2010

A decades-long friendship connects the architect Peter Märkli and the sculptor Hans Josephsohn. The work of Hans Josephsohn provided an important impulse for the young architecture student Peter Märkli's development of his own handling of the architectonic questions of volume, proportions, and spatial relationships. Above all the reliefs, which, for Josephsohn, «offer the greatest artistic freedom», therefore play a central role since, in this type, artistic spaces are bridged in which the sculptor can depict multiple human and, in part, also sculptural figures in various relationships to one another.

Peter Märkli has integrated such reliefs into the concept for many of his buildings already in the initial sketches – and sometimes gone almost so far as to create spaces around such works by Josephsohn. One example of this is the museum «La Congiunta,» in English perhaps «the conjunction.» On the Italian-speaking side of the Gotthard Route, the reduced to the utmost concrete structure was erected in 1992 explicitly to house a permanent exhibition of specific works by Josephsohn, as a «building for the reliefs and half-figures of Hans Josephsohn.»

Consequently, the genre of the reliefs, which Josephsohn worked on consistently throughout the development of his work, also plays a central role in the exhibition curated by Peter Märkli in the Löwenbräu in Zurich. The large flat reliefs with their characteristic geometrically calculated abstraction form a brilliant prelude to the exhibition. Then follows a group of smaller works that, arguably, still have very little spatial depth. The human entities on them are, nevertheless, already rendered in a decidedly more figurative manner. This development toward an ever more distinct figuration culminates in the reliefs from the 1970s formed with exceptional depth in which the figures are, in part, shaped in a nearly fully three-dimensional manner and almost seem to detach themselves from the surface area of the reliefs. The late work, finally, is characterized by a «return» to reduction. These reliefs are now, however, no longer carried out in a geometricizing manner but instead by means of the frugal accumulation of dense masses of material to form compact bodies that, in their immediate similarity to sketches, are formed in a, nonetheless, exceedingly precise manner.

The exhibition is, however, not limited to reliefs. Four fully three-dimensionally wrought, geometric, reduced standing figures form the counterpart to the early flat reliefs, while two works from the, for Josephsohn's work, ultimately central group of works of the large half-figures from the 1990s supplement the late reliefs with their massive reduction. (um)

The exhibition in the gallery rooms of Hauser & Wirth Zurich and curated by Peter Märkli to mark Josephsohn's 90th birthday is realized in close cooperation with the Kesselhaus Josephsohn.