Reality and possibility: this pair of terms is of central importance for many discussions of aesthetics and art theory. All too great a reliance on reality squanders a valuable potential of artistic practice in favor of questionable duplication of the found and pre-existing. Is it not the very realm of possibility that is visualized by the great works of art and in which the great artists invested their mastery?
Reality versus possibility can be understood as a rich field of tension, with the position of the artist in any case bound to a practical construct of life and a reflective construct of ideas. Giving preference to possibility implies a renunciation of reality, without losing sight of such. Only slowly, step by step, the weightings are shifted. The individual accrues a new and different identity by way of the creative act of art. The forms, means and conditions in the field of art are defined by traditions and rules, by history and present context. It is a simplification to presume that the artist is free here to make whatever choice suits him. His disposition, his sensitivity, his temperament are subjected to a maelstrom of hard-fought oppositions. Succeeding at formulating a work of one’s own and ultimately a life’s work, thereby materializing the visible with unprecedented form and coherence, is a challenge and achievement in equal measure.
Joseph Egan, born in 1952 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA, has been affiliated with our gallery for more than twenty years. The years abroad that ultimately led him to Switzerland and to the careful and serious testing and probing of his artistry will not be further addressed here. At any rate, an initial solo exhibition was held in our gallery in 1992. Colorcomb is meanwhile the ninth solo show, in retrospect part of a long shared path. The adventure of allowing artistic activity to unfold within the realm of possibility resulted in significant exhibitions at regular intervals, each constituting carefully composed occurrences.
The aforementioned process of transformation was certainly a lifelong theme for Joseph Egan. Decisiveness and certainty gradually set in and became established over the years in view of and by means of the works with which the artist constructed and continues to construct the sphere of his existence.
Yet his art is not an expression of biography and mindset, but rather the works are objects constructed with color and material and color as a material, objects that are released into the world by the artist in order to thus find their place and each fulfill their particular mysterious function. They are vessel and home to an intensity that seeks to find its way to the recipient. In so doing, the fact that they express palpable sympathy for audiences open to dialog and friendship should in no way be denied. This is a rare and authentic quality of these works. Let’s call it an intentional bridging concept and a characteristic that joins with many further characteristics to form a whole.
The important body of paintings on paper and canvas should not go unmentioned. These works – occasionally produced in expansive series, including while on travels and outside the studio – develop formal themes with spontaneous gestures, probing transparency and density and conveying the joy taken in painterly invention and freedom. An appropriately careful and precise framing emphasizes the eminence of this group of works.
June 28 to August 25, 2023
Publisher: ER Publishing, Edited by Molly Warnock
Joseph Egan and Anton Himstedt: Common Ground
Publisher: Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Ulrike Growe
INSIGHT #3 spotlights the graphic work of Fred Sandback through three examples from 1974 and 1982.