Eugen Gomringer drawing as reflected identity

From the art-relevant details of Peter Wechsler’s biography we can gather that he works as a drawer and intaglio graphic artist. There are only a few references in-between that he creates oil paintings. If his oeuvre is sometimes described as a painterly one, then this is true to the extent that the artist is familiar with color and knows how to use it. Yet first and foremost it relates to the fact that in his approach color emerges stealthily, as it were, when he is drawing. Before he decides whether he is to work with or without color, a certain sensuality sets in as a sensitive movement, there is impulse and gesture.

A characteristic of current art and art experience is that one does not just turn to the painting as an already self-contained and contextually created object of perception. One also turns to the isolated and non-descript remainder in order to study and test the various possibilities of realization made available to human action – how something relates to the hand. The gesture gives way to drawing, yet drawing does not necessarily result from a gesture. That the artist does not see "gesture" or the "gestural" as wild, uncontrolled gesturing on the canvas but rather as movement essentially carried out with his hand, will become clear in the course of this study of his oeuvre and his approach. These notions are, of course, also understood in this sense in this description.

Peter Wechsler’s oeuvre emerges through drawing which is both: gesture and technique. Once motion has become fixated in the pictorial object, the way that the viewer of finished works is confronted with it, the gestural quality of an event or action continues to have an effect. In particular in the more recent works – pencil on paper – an almost immediate affinity to the emergence can be sensed. In general, it is the potential to visually experience an immediate idea or emotional state in the wide field of artistic drawing, that is, not the simple note and notation that makes each sheet so fascinating in a different way. The technique of transfer is any case no more and no less than the often tediously assimilated tool that is subject to constant scrutiny, the encounter on the surface. With Johann Gottlieb Fichte one would thus wish to speak of a drawing in particular as a "construction of vision" (Sichtkonstruktion) or "post-construction" (Nachkonstruktion) of primal life which the picture "merely" enables to become a picture.

Peter Wechsler’s drawing does not elude this basic constellation either, in spite of a sense of affinity and empathy. He has even developed a personal style which speaks for the original picture as a sort of "post-construction". It is an asset of this style that it is easier for the viewer to read the indeterminate remainder, or shall we call it the state that can be experienced. It is easier than if something else were being presented sheet for sheet as, say, in a diary. We could venture to conclude that the artist’s mental movements and psyschological motivations are conveyed with a certain formation, so that their features can serve as detectors.

For years Peter Wechsler has been focusing on certain of these features. This "concentration" captures the essence of the creative process. With varying intensity from an impenetrable density to an informal, light drawing, the concentrates are distributed over the surface. They fill the sheet to the brim, evoking a shimmer of color, or they weave delicate webs like light poetry on the sheet which offers a lot of space in such a case. Two movements dominate in these concentrates: a circular one, which could be described as gesture, and a radial one, which is striking by virtue of the fact that it unerringly condenses with many other curves in the center. Both movements lend themselves to creating structures of varying tension. They propagate themselves, while interlocking. In this sense they are objects of perception that have emerged from a connection, concretizing something that has happened through the way they grow and spread – here art psychology would have to make recourse to biological terminology. Their movement continues before the onlooker’s eyes like breathing tissue. Here mental movements breathe together with psychological motivation.

However, it is also the type of concentration, the binding nature of their design that recalls an understanding of early life with the "visual construction”. An artist’s personality emerges, one seeking to merge linear forms with concentric ones, and actually doing so in the process. This preoccupation is not only found in art, but it is here that it is continued – as a task of visual representation – in a number of formulations. The central focus is the individual who no longer pursues only one line, no longer can it be reduced to one line, as managers aspired to in their way of thinking years ago. Rather, the individual concentrically assimilates its environment, becoming involved with it.

Peter Wechsler, a contemporary who has been drawn into this discussion, tries to transcend his identity in an supra-individual and symbolic order through gestures and reflection. He has thus had to limit himself to a few patterns so as not to waste time and energy. He, too, has processed these patterns and continues to do so. The onlooker often sees his all-encompassing tissues as assimilations of as many areas as possible with the help of his dense surfaces. Arched movements and linear emanations are also painterly elements which set accents and thus assume epic scope as op-posed to lyrical webs. In describing the manifold aspects in a portrait of Peter Wechsler of which his drawings are certainly a part, it would not be inappropriate to cite pairs of conceptual oppositions that reach beyond the repertory of art. This, for instance, when in the impenetrable intersections of many lines an egocentric motion can be sensed which is directed both inwards as well as outwards, or when in the wide-sweeping arcs which could only be created with generous movement, a liberated, altruistic action imposes itself as interpretation.

Peter Wechsler is working on an artistic project that is topical in a passionate way.

Translated from German into English by Camilla Nielsen.