Africa and modern painting (1993)

Review of my exhibition at Atelier Spieserhus in Rheinfelden in 1993, Basler Zeitung-20.11.1993 No. 272

Rheinfelden. tex. Concentrated knowledge from 36 years of passionate collecting is impressive. Madeleine and Jean-Jacques Keller have carefully put together the sixth exhibition at the “Atelier Spiserhus” in the heart of Rheinfelden’s old town. On display are marionettes and exhibits from a wide variety of cultures. Expressive marionettes from Africa and Asia are attractively juxtaposed in an atmospheric setting. The modern paintings of Jan Niksinski are also well-lit. The introverted, reserved Polish artist rounds off the idea of the exhibition with his works. He sensitively captures the unity behind the contrasts with his brush and delicate black and white colours. The creative statement, the common denominator of the most diverse cultures, is fascinating. An exhibition that is worth investing a lot of time in to take a closer look.

The marionettes from the Angele and Alain Larem collection play an important role. “We want the viewer to start living with us and open up new horizons,” is how Madeleine and Jean-Jacques Keller summarise their work in the Rheinfelden studio. The unbroken joie de vivre of other cultures and the diversity of expressiveness is palpable A whole world theatre is opened up by the colourful marionettes, which were once allowed to play on the big theatre stage not only to amuse but also to criticise society. The marionettes of the Black Continent are not well known, although the Bozo puppet theatre is mentioned as early as the 14th century. Handmade puppets still play an important role in Mali today. Be it for ritual purposes or for the amusement of young people, with a simultaneous educational effect.

“Ying hi”, the shadow theatre with puppets, has been known in China since the 10th century. Even in the Ming dynasty, figures with certain fixed character traits fascinated audiences. The typical character traits of the puppets on display are clearly recognisable. As artistic productions in their own right, the puppets nevertheless defy typification due to their complete, unique identity. The exhibition is a vivid documentation of real worlds. The exhibition invites visitors to get involved, turn inwards and discover the collective nature of other cultures.

“Art begins where reality ends,” says Jan Niksinski, who does not reduce his pictures to cult-like montages. He is a modernist with individual signs and remains true to his style.

Rheinfelden: Atelier Spiserhus, Hauptwachplatz 4, marionettes and paintings by Jan Niksinski (Poland), Tuesday-Friday 3-6 pm and Saturday 10 am – 4 pm until 18 December