Untitled, 2014 – 2017

Heimo Zobernig

Wall intervention
Interference colours (Lascaux)

Stainless steel
970 x 110 x 256 cm

© 2014, Heimo Zobernig

Image copyright Stefan Altenburger

…I am interested in a pragmatic approach that attempts to understand each object. Because even if things cannot be rendered absolutely clear, one should nonetheless try to achieve this

When does a picture become “a painting”? When does applying colours become “painting”? And when does the person who applies paint to something become “an artist”? These are the kinds of questions raised by the work of Heimo Zobernig, questions of what constitutes art and what an artist actually is. The murals he has realized on two storeys of Swiss Re Next explore the principle of monochromy in abstract painting. The resulting art works in intense magenta, blue, indigo, turquoise, yellow and violet are the opposite of what one would expect. As so often in Zobernig’s work, the reason for this effect lies in a simple choice of material. The visibly striped walls are painted with “interference colours”. Instead of executing the murals himself, Zobernig commissioned a professional painter to do the job. Had he painted the wall himself, the streaks and lines would necessarily have been seen as artistic marks, as traces of painterly expression. This way, it is the experience and expertise of a craftsman that determine the rhythm of the painting, thus tacitly counteracting the gesture of the artist.  In collaboration with architect Norbert Steiner he’s also designed the stainless steel coffee bar that hovers above ground in the bright blue reception area on the 6th floor. Floating just above floor level and seemingly defying the laws of gravity, the visibly heavy bar also has a shimmering and airy quality thanks to its polished surface. Its high polish snatches the colours off the walls and represents them again, in moving curves and shiny elongations. The walls and the furniture, the art and the architecture answer and reinforce one another – a "Gesamtkunstwerk" in which the dividing lines between applied and fine art, between painting and decorating, between sculpture and furniture making are blurred beyond recognition.