Uwe Wittwer


In his paintings, watercolours and inkjet prints, Swiss-born Uwe Wittwer (*1954) subverts and calls into question the beholder’s viewing habits and expectations. The enchanting beauty and sensuality of his works are often only a lure that, upon closer inspection, gives way to the latent horror lurking behind the façade of bourgeois ways of life. All of Wittwer’s works display a deliberate haziness, which removes the motives from immediate readability. The still-lives, interiors, landscapes and portraits are not representations of a visible reality, they are rather tools for questioning our own viewing habits. Wittwer’s series, developed over a long period of time, inquire into the overriding question of image, effect, and reality—an almost existential question in the age of the internet and the resulting difficulty of distinguishing between “real” and “fake”. The internet is thus also one of Wittwer’s main sources in his search for motives. The point of departure for this appropriation of images was an intense encounter that the artist had with the Old Masters in the London National Gallery. On the internet, he chanced upon amateur photographs taken by American soldiers during the Vietnam war, showing the banality of quotidian military life. Wittwer went one step further back into history with his interpretation of photographs depicting the fragile idyll that was Eastern Prussia before World War II. Wittwer engages with these series not in chronological order, rather, he repeatedly takes up their motives in new works. This simultaneous, increasingly focused development of series allows the artist to reflect on the understanding of an image throughout the entire breadth of different media, overthrowing the established hierarchies (small drawing—large painting). Here, too, the viewer has to rethink his viewing habits and expectations.