KünstlerIn: Hans Krüsi
Titel: EX HK.
Datum: 8. Dezember 2019 bis 6. Januar 2020
Fotografie: Courtesy Suns Works, Zürich
Notiz: Kuratiert von Lorenzo Bernet
Hans Krüsi (1920 - 1995) became known as a street vendor selling self-made ower bouquets and postcard-sized paintings, and is nowadays considered a historical position in the field of self-taught art in Switzerland. The exhibition comprises works on paper and cardboard that have never been shown previously, dating from the mid seventies and eighties, as well as a series of experimental tape music and field recordings, released by the Italian label Alga Marghen in 2008 (including tapes from the collection of Anton Bruhin).
Working in a variety of media, Hans Krüsi’s body of work is on the one hand informed by regional art practices (such as paper-cuts and folk painting from Appenzell Ausserrhoden), and on the other hand is characterized by a pragmatic and contemporary approach towards artistic production. He built cow tape machines, that mechanically simulate the traditional 'Alpabzug' (ceremonial cattle drive from mountain pastures into valleys), used photo-copiers as tools to develop variations of his drawings, and shot thousands of Polaroid photos.
While his transformation to a 'professional' artist could be described as a reciprocal process between ascriptions from outside and the outsider artist’s consensual self-dramatization, his later 'discovery' by galleries and the press still exemplifies the dynamics and clichés surrounding the label 'art brut', which had become part of the mainstream art market at the beginning of the 80’s. Coming from modest circumstances Krüsi made it to decent wealth, creating a vast oeuvre within the last two decades of his life.
When it hit a peak in production around the mid-eighties, his studio in St. Gallen started to resemble a cluttered Merzbau––essentially becoming a 'bucolic pop-art factory'. (An output which eventually also cast a spell on a Swiss youth who went by the name "Hans-Ulrich...". Being one of the first artists he had ever met, Krüsi’s vast encyclopedia of cows and birds would leave a profound infuence on this future star curator.) But although Krüsi also became acquainted with contemporaries such as Dieter Roth and Jean Tinguely, it’s safe to say that he was hardly ever concerned with the art world as such.
Many of Hans Krüsi’s subject matters remained connected to the landscape of his upbringing, recording cyclical rhythms and birdsong, and depict motifs such as agro-pastoral sceneries littered with abstract blobs and hundreds of animals. He did so not for the sake of tradition, but out of a veneration of an all-encompassing cosmology between man and nature, producing an idyll executed in countless variations, the result of experimentations with a garish psychedelic palette and of a rare ability to enliven pictures with whatever medium at hand—often bizarrely exaggerated, yet always disarmingly frenetic.