RONEWA ART PROJECTS in Berlin is pleased to present Head 2 Head, an exhibition of new works and recent works by Swiss artists Gérard Charrière and Pierre Gottfried Imhof. The exhibition opens September 15, 2016 and will continue through October 5, 2016
The exhibition of 31 works features recent Individual paintings by the two artists, and three new collaborative drawings.
Charrière and Imhof offer the viewer unique styles and approaches in their work, while both find inspiration in language, text, and communication. Their work is deeply rooted in a fascination for the word and script as a form of expression.
Parallels between the two continue biographically as the artists share origins as Swiss-born and both are from the city of Fribourg. The artists grew up speaking German and French in the city that prides itself as bilingual. Early in their careers, they left their hometown for new horizons. With their orientations towards the written word already emerging, Charrière apprenticed as a bookbinder in Basel, and Imhof started out as a typesetter in London. Eventually, Charrière found a new home in New York, where he spent 37 years before relocating to Berlin in 2001, while Imhof lived and worked in London for 30 years and today calls Berlin his second home.
In Gérard Charrière's work, words and writing emerge as catalysts for expressive canvases and as a form of artistic liberation. The word in its visual form and the gestural nature of writing as a continuous and fluid process of creation, constitute a unifying aspect of his acrylic paintings as they simultaneously obscure abstracted figures that either emerge or recede in the pictorial space. To Charrière, writing and the script are in their essence a quintessentially human act, the layering of words is an expression of the perpetual and consistently commencing act of creation. "Given the meander-like movement of life there only remains hope in that I don't have to worry about a life which is in a constant state of movement," states Charrière.
Pierre Imhof turned to abstraction after focusing on figuration during his early years and found inspiration in calligraphy for the first time in 1990. While Charrière "hides" the words and their meaning by writing in layers and switching languages with referenced figures in the layers, Imhof creates mixed media works using symbols and words found in contemporary culture and technology. Although Imhof gives us no known alphabet, he does give us strong visual cues and signs. Portions of the figure also exist, as Imhof continues to depict heads with gapping mouths as if in mid-sentence. Like Charrière, he is interested in writing as an activity as well as different forms of communication. His recent works depict symbols, words, and phrases that are shared globally as technology evolves and brings along its very own language. This new common digital alphabet, and how it can be both tool and hindrance for communication at the same time, is the inspiration for his most recent works.
In Charrière and Imhof's first collaborative work, these two distinct artistic approaches are merged into one. It is important to note that the artists’ works individually include a kind of movement or animation of line and composition. A fusion of animated line, gesture, and surface treatment emerge in these collaborations. "The interaction of our handwriting and the way this interaction creates a third handwriting is something I am very interested in,” Imhof says. While a strong part of Charrière's and Imhof's work is about legible and illegible writing, these portray yet another description of writing and open up new channels of communication and expression. Taking turns, Charrière and Imhof completed three drawings together. "You never know if it will work but in our case it worked very well. It was like a conversation," says Imhof.
The artists have exhibited extensively internationally. Charrière in Berlin, New York, and Basel; and Imhof in Zurich, London, and Frankfurt; both have exhibited in their native Fribourg with Galerie J. J. Hofstetter.