Symbolic language and puppets (1993)

Frictaler Zeitung Rheinfelden Friday 19 November 1993, No. 133

Double exhibition in the “Spiserhus” studio in Rheinfelden

reg. Madeleine and Hans Keller have always endeavoured to present art in its many facets to the interested public in Rheinfelden. In their latest exhibition at the “Spiserhus”, they have combined marionettes and pictures by a young Polish painter.

ln the small world theatre of marionettes from Africa and Asia, the Kellers present charming creatures from the world of fables. Depending on the ethnic group, the moving objects can be understood both as entertainment aids and with a view to criticising the system. Marionettes from Java use theatre technology to tell the heroic stories of the ancient ancestors. Thai figures have also been used in shadow theatre. For example, a monkey prince with his army can be seen, who was supposed to put a stop to demons. Kellers have also included Chinese treasures in the exhibition, because dealing with them is a concern. If art is able to mediate, then the path between people is easier to travel. There is really nothing to add to this. The keen art experts – Mr and Mrs Keller lived on the African continent for many years – have brought back Bozo puppets from what is now Mali. The figures were once intended to have an educational effect, but the objects also served to amuse.

Apparent contrast

As little as the marionettes need a language, the Polish painter and graphic artist Jan Niksinski is not bound by words. Again and again he points out that the path to his works of art (mainly paintings using various techniques) is much more important to him than the message. And this in turn can be chosen individually by the viewer. He was deeply moved and fascinated by the way he dealt with Keller’s marionettes and other African art in his museum-like flat. He rejects the idea that the so-called “primitive art” of the indigenous people is merely a marginalised existence. Rather, all creation should be taken seriously. And because Jan Niksinski is convinced by art, his works do not need to be given a title. But he was still able to reveal his working method. The Pole with the most emsten expression always takes photographs of landscapes or sections of nature. He then transfers the “picture” to the canvas, using a variety of materials. He never knows at the beginning how the work will end. The “fragments of light” are always poetic and intellectual.

Anyone who would like to see this for themselves and also view the contrasts of relativity and rhythm at the “Spiserhus” on Hauplwachplatz can do so from Monday to Friday between 3 and 6 pm and on Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm. By prior arrangement by telephone (061/831 24 43), the hospitable Madeleine and Hans Keller are also available outside of the official opening hours and are willing to rent out “their” art.