Rudolf de Crignis
One may be astonished to learn that paint in and of itself never really interested the Swiss artist Rudolf de Crignis. Both in his ultramarine-blue and his gray series, paint was something that served him only as a catalyst. In other words: paint was a means of making light and space visible in an image, both being appearances that are achieved via the special form of the paint’s application. And de Crignis applied the paint in glazing, alternatingly horizontal and vertical layers with a very fine brush to canvases that he had carefully primed with white chalk. It almost seems misplaced to speak of the application of paint, i.e. when one considers the protracted process of creation in which the paint was more brushed off of the canvas than applied to it. It is therefore not surprising that de Crignis himself once described his artistic work as that of “removing paint”. Thanks to this continuous reduction, however, the artist was able to achieve the transparency in the individual layers of his works that, in turn, allows the light in the exhibition room to penetrate the depths of the pigment and to reflect these depths on the surface.
Ultimately, the beholder is of crucial significance when it comes to de Crignis’ exhaustive examination of paint: as a sensory, perceiving individual, the beholder is called upon to actively discover light and space in the images – thanks to nothing other than the paint.
Born in Winterthur (CH) in 1948. Died 2006 in New York.