Curated by James Cavello
WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC hosted the first comprehensive North American survey of paintings, sculpture and collage by contemporary Swiss artist, Herman Alfred Sigg. The exhibition included nearly 50 paintings, collages and sculptures in the artist's bold, abstract style, and traveled to museums in the United States.
While the work of H. A. Sigg has been exhibited regularly throughout Switzerland since 1950 and widely collected by Swiss museums, corporations and individuals, his art was largely unknown for American audiences. "H. A. Sigg: Recent Work" features a number of paintings from the series "In the Land of the River" and "In the Middle Realm," where subject matter has been reduced to elemental forms. The surfaces of these paintings are brushy and expressive, openly revealing the artist's hand. Following a trip to Southeast Asia in 1968, as "artist in residence for the sky" for Swissair, aerial landscape subjects and river imagery became increasingly evident in his paintings. The river appears as an abstract symbol in many of the works in this exhibition, alternately as a meandering gestural line or a bold, calligraphic stroke. The artist sees the river as a "mysterious force" with a spirit of its own – a metaphor for life itself and mankind's quest for enlightenment.
Other important influences for the artist include trips to India, Thailand, China, Nepal and Cambodia. The elementary geometric forms and complex spatial relationships of Asian and Indian temple architecture inspired a new series of paintings, In the Middle Realm, many of which are included in this exhibition.
"The works included in this exhibition", Robert M. Murdock writes in his catalogue essay, "can only begin to suggest the depth and richness in the art of H. A. Sigg… Presenting his work in New York, a city that historically has embraced new art and artists from Europe, and where Abstract Expressionism developed and flourished, seems particularly appropriate."
The exhibition also included a selection of ten sculptures constructed from found materials, formal and totemic, recalling Cubist sculpture and the "walls" of Louise Nevelson, and eighteen small-scale collages, adding to the viewer's understanding of the structure and content of the artist's work.
Born in Zurich in 1924, H. A. Sigg spent his childhood in the nearby village of Oberhasli. After studying at the School of Applied Art inZurich with former Bauhaus master and color theorist Johannes Itten, Sigg attended the Academié André Lhote in Paris, immersing himself in French art and culture. Although the artist returned to Switzerland and settled there permanently, he made numerous extended study trips around the world, developing a personal vocabulary of color, shapes and composition inspired by his reverence for nature.
The work of H. A. Sigg is represented in numerous public and private collections, including Museum of Modern Art, Zurich; Swiss Federal Government Collection, Bern; Buehrle Collection, Zurich; and Hahnloser Collection, Fribourg, among others. H. A. Sigg: Recent Work was funded by a generous grant from PRO HELVETIA, Arts Council of Switzerland. A portion of proceeds from sales during this exhibition were donated to the Swiss Institute, New York. An illustrated catalogue with an essay by Robert M. Murdock accompanied the exhibition.