Polarities

In his new work, Hans Eggenberger has persistently continued to pursue the path of reduction. As a result his visual language has gained in clarity and simplicity of expression. The floating pyramids and infinite lines have been replaced by vacant surfaces where a few features catch and irritate our eye stimulating new awareness. The small, slit-like shapes are sprayed onto the card with such precision that they seem like dematerialized light elements.

In one of his larger groups of work, Hans Eggenberger explores the polarity of positive and negative. In each case, two pictures, a black one and a white one, confront each other – one mirroring the other, reflecting the structure of its counterpart. The artist rarely breaks this pattern of strict polarity except, for example, when he does not change the color of a green line to make it red in its counterpart. This shows that, in spite of all constructive clarity, Hans Eggenberger is guided by emotion, a fact which may explain the softness that is part of paintings which exhibit a geometrical regularity. Hans Eggenberger uses polarities to draw our attention to a basic law governing the universe, a law that runs through all chemistry and physics all fundamental functions of life. It is the contrary nature of positive and negative that enables human beings to move their muscles and even the rhythm of day and night, of summer and winter, life and death testify to this fact. The Chinese use the Yin/Yang symbol and, similarly, Hans Eggenberger uses a new medium to express this essentiality of polarity. All life, all material, all spirit is vibration between contrasting poles; a higher homogeneous unity behind the surface polarity can only be found beyond shapes, in the elemental origins.

Anyone who is used to Hans Eggenberger's earlier works will first need to become acquainted with the newly-acquired clarity and simplicity, will need to learn how to handle these still zones. This process of learning is definitely worth the effort because the practice of continuation and reduction has lead Hans Eggenberger to more depth and purity. The deceptive visual effects which the artist achieves in his new works will be conspicuous even for the superficial observer. For a start, there is the three-dimensional impression made by the slit forms which look like gashes and which appear to move after prolonged examination. And then there is the seemingly empty expanse which is given a new identity by the sparing use of intrusive elements. The economical use of features creates suction into profundity. The observer is tempted to examine the surface in closer detail. The wealth of such simplicity will slowly become visible during this heightened process of perception and the observer can experience how the slightest mutation can cause the entire blank surface to vibrate and thus undergo transformation. However, these are quiet tones and an observer used to loud and bold structures must first familiarize himself/herself with the new situation.

Hans Eggenberger's new works remind us of the Chinese artist who was commissioned to paint a partition wall with two dragons for the emperor. The painter lived as a recluse for years on end but was still not content with the resulting work. When he finally unveiled his work of art, there was only a blue and a red stroke on the partition wall. The emperor may have been appalled at first but finally the energy and intensity of both dragons and the quintessence of years of endeavor emerged in both of the simple brush strokes. A tinge of dematerialized energy, which makes the most inconspicuous activity resonate with years of experience, is made visual in Hans Eggenberger's work. Maturity ripening to simplicity. The corners and edges, the brightly colored medley have been mellowed. All polarity returns to the form of a homogeneous whole and hence manifold fancy has matured to give birth to simple, dense characteristics which possess the artistic energy of hundreds of paintings. Admittedly, a lot of labor and struggle can no longer be seen in the works. They glide along with the ease of the tightrope walker but anyone who attempts to balance over the abyss knows that only a master of his art can ever be successful. We may not be able to see the beads of perspiration but they are communicated to us by the compact density achieved by the artist in his work. It is left to the observer to attain admission to the spirit of artistic profundity which has been realized with a minimum of method. At first, the observer may find this difficult because the pictorial simplicity is as slippery as a fish and the inexperienced beholder can slither and fall repeatedly. However the patience and energy required to understand an artist is always rewarding and, after all, Hans Eggenberger's creative quintessence had not developed overnight.

Thomas G. Brunner

Text to Catalogue "Hans Eggenberger"
Published in April 1990

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