Christian Denzler, who was born in 1966, lives and works in Bern and Brussels. He draws, paints and creates installations and objects, but ever so often he also writes poems, prose and texts accompanying the works of artist friends.
The body is the theme that threads its way through all his works. The lines are so fine and the transitions from light to dark so subtle that one can never be sure whether the figures are in the process of appearing or disappearing. It is exactly this hard-to-define, elusive realm, this balance between condensing and dissolution.
Christian Denzler has created a large number of new drawings in various formats for the exhibition ‹Bleistift auf Papier›. The artist asked himself three questions. Here the answers:
Three years have passed since your last exhibition with us. Why did it take so long?
I wrote above all. Poems, prose, but also lyrics for my friend Simon Hostettler. Together we recorded the CD "Bruxelles", a kind of mood image from the city, in which I now live for almost twenty-five years. And I thought about art. With the last children's drawings form and content break irretrievably apart. Later, art history turns upside down and you lose your innocence a second time. And at some point the art market hits you on the stomach. And the red wine, and the cigarettes, or all together. There are topics that will not let you go, and that are a recurrent theme throughout your work. But basically, it is only a pursuit of that lost unity of representation and expression. And you can despair of that.
Can you say something about the exhibition? How did it come about?
I had a mood in my mind from the rooms. How they should work. Not too heavy and not too light. An idea of the color of the walls. I wished for semi-transparent curtains that would take the exhibition visitor a bit further from the hustle and bustle outside the windows. And I wanted to limit myself to drawings. The most common of all experimental arrangements: pencil and paper. At the same time, I tried to think as little as possible about the exhibition as a whole, not to subdivide it into groups of works, but to let each drawing emerge out of itself. What seems contradictory at first glance is, in fact, different approaches to the same search. To the question of the human appearance.
And the rabbit?
As a child, I got every year for Christmas from my grandmother a ribbon from "Knaur's Tierreich in Farben" as a gift. And in the issue about mammals, I came across a full-page picture of an antelope rabbit. A desert image that has troubled me immensely. Half a year ago, I rediscovered the book in a second-hand bookshop. Iconographically, the hare stands for fertility and rebirth and appears again and again in art history. With Dürer, of course, or as a reminiscence, for example, in an early work by Polke on a colored fabric background. Dieter Roth kneaded rabbits from cow dung and Beuys explained his art to a dead hare in a gallery in Düsseldorf. And he did not just explain the pictures and objects to a lifeless animal. And as a kid, I did not see the hare either, when I went back to that black-and-white shot again and again, but the creature behind it. As a metaphor for ourselves. For what connects us and what attracts us. And what scares us. And what disturbs us.