CEAN – is Christian Eduard Asuncion Neuenschwander, a Zürich Switzerland based artist creating objects, paintings and drawings.
He’s currently focusing on a project called «Beak of Life» – a profound retreat to examining intuition, form giving and the nature of identity.
Auction for Peace, Painting, Rindermarkt 23 Cultural Space by Ensoie, Zürich (11. - 12. 3. 2022)
Objects with Love, Sculpture, Neumarkt 17, Zürich (1. - 24. 12. 2021)
Christian Neuenschwander «CEAN», Solo Exhibition, Rindermarkt 23 Cultural Space by Ensoie, Zürich (16. 9. - 2. 10. 2021)
Oishii Pop Up, Paintings, Widder Hotel, Zürich (8. 11. 2019 - 14. 2. 2020)
10th Anniversary Show Mondejar Gallery, Sculpture, Villa Meier-Severin Museum, Zürich (22. - 27. 10. 2019)
Objects with Love, Sculpture, Design Miami, Basel (10. - 16. 6. 2019)
Text: Alexandra Looser
German translation: here
Whoever surrenders to the trace left behind in "CEAN", which picks up momentum along the winding lines, sometimes presenting itself with a cloudy body, sometimes spindly of polished wood, inevitably ends up where it all began. At the question of the representability of a barely tangible force that binds a desire for creative work.
Christian Neuenschwander's artistic approach is hence best grasped by the concept of intuition. It marks a key moment in 2017, when he placed the ink brush on a blank paper and let his hand glide over the white surface without a concrete plan. Where intuition guides the brush, this could be a way to let the unconscious get to work. Intuition would thus be the gate through which this intangible becomes visible: First as an organic serpentine line, which now, four years later, lives itself out in a variety of ways through the various exhibits. As images of this impulsive ink drawing, they form the antithesis to Neuenschwander's professional career as a graphic artist.1 Where ideas are formulated only after long deliberations, the artistic works are created without a conceptual framework.
Yet why do we see a virtual room full of birds?
To the generic Serpentina, Neuenschwander imposed the playful question of what would be necessary as a creative minimum to give the line an identity. The answer was a dot and a small pointed escape during the brushwork. The interference gave the organic an exterior that the viewer immediately recognizes as the shape of a bird - although the drawings as well as the three-legged sculptures lack any real correspondences. As a collective reference point, this simple intrusion runs through the figures. It is formed from concrete, wood, stone, graphite, felt-tip pen, ink and joins together in the tensions and convolutions of the arches, the dynamic fraying ductus of the ink drawing, in the hatched paintings as well as in the sculptures to form a universe that suggests a neo-Romantic longing for unity and originality.
It is no coincidence that Neuenschwander calls the three-legged sculptures "Tripsareus" - as if a prehistoric ur-form were expressed in them, which he would like to lead back into the experiential horizon of our over-medialized age.2
This primordiality of simple form, however, is obscured by a double track that is equally inherent in the works: the flatness of Henri Matisse, the canonized One Line drawings of Pablo Picasso, the polished reductions of Constantin Brâncuși, as world-famous in L'oiseau dans l'espace, and the biomorphic formal language of Hans Arp unmistakably resonate in the works. "La simplicité c'est la complexité résolue," Brâncuși expressed about the abstracting and reducing process of modernism.3 Yet there is just as much Harald Nägeli aesthetic in Neuenschwander's reproduced forms as Marcel Broodthaers' eagle cabinet shines through in the abundance of bird-like creatures.
The inked body, the wooden curves and concrete feet therefore do not mark the end of a prolonged reflection on artistic production, in which reduction and abstraction function as the core elements of art, also in the sense of an avant-garde l'art pour l'art.4 Rather, the formal and material variations are fragmentary illustrations as well as further developments of this first intuitive line. In this sense, we are dealing neither with postmodernist appropriation, recycling, nor archiving.
The emphasis is rather on the possibility of forming a foundation from the supposed bird creatures, from which a universe entirely of one's own could be built: The same way as the first falling domino triggers a chain of reactions, the 2017 winding form initiated a cell division that is inextricably and undistancably linked to "CEAN".5 The intuitive trace became two, then four, then sixteen images... they change their dimension, their materiality, have three or no legs. Infectiously, this trace takes hold and establishes its very own reality in the multiplication.6 Whereby the abundance of form-related works does not exhibit their insignificance. They are too allegorically distanced for that, and the bird-like nature of the works is entirely secondary - after all, we all know that these are not birds, but fantasies and mutations of intuition.
1_The ink drawings made from a line are formally reminiscent of the calligraphy technique. Christian Neuenschwander worked with it for the first time for a project that he co-designed for the SHIN restaurant in Zurich.
2_On Christian Neuenschwander's Instagram channel, one of these primordial creatures is depicted as a microscopic organism: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9XMWN9gIkK/.
3_Constantin Brâncuși, zit. in: Friedrich Teja Bach, 1987: Constantin Brancusi. Metamorphosen Plastischer Form. Köln, S.16.
4_The search for originality, simplicity, and a universal form was a widespread, not unproblematic concern, especially in modernism through so-called primitivism in art, which is known to have caused suffering, classicism, and determinism in the course of colonialist discourse, which still shows its impact today. What distinguishes 2021 from the first half of the 20th century is the knowledge that universally valid statements are hardly possible.
5_CEAN is an acronym of Christian Eduard Asuncion Neuenschwander: the first and second name of the artist and the surnames of his parents.
6_A trail that you will also encounter in the forest in Gockhausen if you look carefully at the yellow markings on the tree trunks.