Remarks concerning the joint artistic work of Christoph Getzner and Markus Getzner.

Charles Hersperger - November 2006

Translated from the French by Sally Paschoud

The fact that two brothers, each an artist in his own right since his youth, should, on the threshold of their forties, unite forces to create joint works of art, could be explained in different ways. Perhaps it would be more prospective, instead of searching for an origin, or pretending to corroborate an idea of evolution, to consider the works themselves, in their actuality, in order to discover their governing and working principles.

However, as far as the modesty and authentic discretion of the authors are concerned, it should be mentioned that over and above their complete artistic education, both of them have pursued practices parallel to their joint activity, to which these offer a vast echo. Christoph Getzner is a member of the restoration team working on Saint-Stephen's cathedral in Vienna, Austria; Markus Getzner is a monk at the tibetan buddhist monastery Rabten Choeling at Le Mont-Pèlerin, in Switzerland. It can thus be said that neither has the desire to describe himself only as an artist, preoccupied by his mode of expression or his personal renown; they do not attempt to separate aesthetic creativity from the whole experience of life.

Thus, over the past four years or so, five creations of varying scope have taken place. Competitions, orders, invitations, participation in a collective exhibition, each time the circumstances are new. The proposition of the artists represents an emergence of these, with a language of a single voice, the strength of which stems from a mature relationship between the intention and the expression or, reciprocally, of a direct effect of the assumed means on the quality of presence of the work.

An analysis of style, even if it helped to situate this production in a contemporary current and offer some keys to its expressive efficiency, would risk obstructing the approach to a subtle but important virtue which animates it. There is concept, there is selective aesthetic consciousness, technical mastery in favour of a graphic and plastic composition whose originality questions. But whom, how, why does it question? It seems that an ethic prevails in this art. The concern is not to seduce but to induce an exchange, a sharing, while respecting the integrity and liberty of others.

As far as the conditions of presentation permit, but always with an economy of means, an action by Christoph Getzner and Markus Getzner defines a place. It certainly is visual and plastic art, but elements of a scenography, indications or rudiments of architecture, layout and furniture, create a space which invites anyone with an open mind to take the time to remain in a reflective or contemplative posture, to adjust perception and attention so as to consider, to reflect upon and inhabit this environment from one's own intimate self.

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Installations have their place in contemporary art over a long enough period of time for the experience to be proven. Those which use the diversity of techniques, supports and language to establish a completeness of meeting, as is clearly the situation here, belong to ancient traditions of practices in expression, communication, celebration and communion.

In this case, the significance of baroque art, whose heritage is clearly conveyed in the realisations of Christoph Getzner and Markus Getzner, can be reassessed. At the risk of losing oneself in considerations of historical philosophy, the question can be asked if the universal expansion of this art, because of its being part of the dominating powers (church, monarchy, empire, capital) did not take place at the cost of its real accomplishment, that is: the explosion-implosion of the sphere, the abolition of the right angle and of the tyranny of the vertical-horizontal, the return of Dionysos upon the triumph of Apollo. Something decisive could still happen by an updating, a continuation of baroque art.

In addition, the potentiality of the global work of art plays and will continue to play a role in past, present and future works, but more in the elaboration case by case than as an aim towards which stages should be scheduled. The authors do not foretell the pertinence of their purpose, they do not have a permanent workshop from where their production proceeds in portions, but they take every opportunity to validate each phase of their research and of their experience as a new form of dialogue between necessities and means.

The themes presented, as well as the ways of presenting them, are neither commonplace nor decorative in the hollow sense of the word. The designs, cut-outs, bas-reliefs, objects and sculptures express, together and progressively, a theory of perception, with a vocabulary and syntax of their own, which the circumstances enhance.

What strikes at first is the clarity of vision, the facility of access and of examination. Whatever it is, the work gives itself totally; balance and harmony of the whole in its proportions, its materials, its colours. But immediately something also intrigues. This device opens up a surge of overabundant confusion which, if it took other forms, would be frightening; but here, bones, flesh, garments, trinkets, symbols, unusual objects from the fields of science, technique, secular and religious life, passing in a disorder which borders on the absurd, somehow cling together in an elevation. All the elements are simply parts, fragments, scattered allusions but they are also situated each one in relation to the others, joined according to a strange principle whose prime effect would seem to be subtraction but which, in fact reveals an underlying law of the general appearance of things.

During the time the person allows himself to dedicate to the consideration of this work, he will be able, by his observation, to create his own phantasmagoria, to let himself be surprised by memories or new impressions, to discover in himself notions which will correspond to the aspects which challenge him, possibly feel himself to be guided by a delicate benevolence, which does not mask a determination, a firmness of entreaty: yes, we are the living-dying, taken and released and retaken in an incessant fluctuation of appearance and disappearance, of formation and dissolution, often more the sign of a thing than the thing itself and, whatever this apparently confusing vision may be, we can SEE beyond our senses and our understanding, we can affine and deepen this SEEING, sharpen it and exercise it, centre it and raise it up by lucidity or lyricism to the point of generating, by the SEEING, the approval of the seen, which is the union with the shown.