JOSEPH EGAN (1952* Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA)
RICHARD FRANCISCO (1942* St. Helena, Napa Valley, USA)
It is the intention of the exhibition to bring together two artists in a dialogue. They represent an important part of the gallery's presence and identity. Something the two artists have in common is a poetics of narrative form. This may sound captious. A statement by the great Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert can help clarify and state more precisely what is meant by this: "I examine an object, not myself, immerse myself in something located apart from me. Immersing oneself in something means thinking it through, absorbing it with the eyes, having the strange experience of something existing apart from me. The philosophical amazement that something is there while I am here." (in "Sinn und Form" 5, 2004)
Each using their own means and processes, both artists open up a space of images and time saturated with experiences, memories and associations. The basis for their work is the relationship to the history of art. For art is a certain view of reality, total and exclusive.
They do not do their work on stage or for the stage of the art world. They are still adherents of the intimate and shielded off workspace of the studio. Considering their biographies, this is not a matter of course. After moving from place to place over the years, Pennsylvania native Joseph Egan only recently made Zurich his definitive place of work and residence. The Californian Richard Francisco also journeyed far and wide early on. Fortunately he has long had a modest loft in New York, serving as studio and homestead in one.
The sole large-format painting by Richard Francisco, 183 x 244 cm, took him much Raum, much Lebensraum, over two years. The exhibition was an opportunity to bring the unconcludable work to a close and to release the piece, with it now dominating the group of works by him on view in Zurich. "Quintets" is the name given to the painted, five-part paper reliefs while all the other fine-meshed works on paper are "Untitled". The poet Francisco does not express himself with words although notations, scribbles somewhere on the sheets, occasionally leave behind traces of everyday life. The formal organization of all the works is reminiscent of mandalas, aids for meditation and finding oneself. Yet the complicated and complex structure is also a program. A program for time and work that allows the artist to come in and out at all times and again and again, to discipline himself or let himself go. This corresponds to his interpretation and attitude toward life.
Joseph Egan's contemporary work feeds on memories – tactile, atmospheric, those of colors. The experienced and passionate perspective of the painter collects them, lays them down and compresses the rich stores. Many small pieces on canvas, both precious and resistant, condense and evoke visual occurrences that were found somewhere and here in turn experience their embodiment, on a changed scale but real and in the moment.
Can there be any greater compliment for a painter than the joy and astonishment of the viewer who rediscovers a world here that is both familiar and unfamiliar to him at the same time and that he is able to localize here and now in the work?
Will Insley (1929–2011)
October 11, 2023 to February 16, 2024
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.