Stefan Guggisberg
Facing the Light
Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin
November 2 – December 16, 2023

Film & Edit: TABLEAU Films (Matthias Maercks)
Music: "Out of the Dark" by Crowander "Slow Smoke" by Crowander
Source: Free Music Archive and license type: CC BY-NC German, with English subtitles

According to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, we are prisoners, who, shackled by the legs and neck, sit on the earth and stare lifelong at a cave wall – something that may be hard to accept in our ostensibly enlightened times. Who is the enemy who is holding us captive? Or is it for our own protection?

It could be, of course, that we are not prisoners but imprisoned in our own prejudices. And our dependence on indirect light is, as it were, constitutive for our cognitive faculty. Our eyes, at least, need to be protected from high intensity light – in flash light we blink reflexively, and to observe an eclipse of the sun we use darkened glass.

In paintings by Stefan Guggisberg such as untitled (circulation) and untitled (melt) you can often recognize something like the walls of a cave. Often. Something like. And between the earthen-brown stone formations multi-coloured flecks and daubs glisten. The relief is overlaid by a structure of organic colourings and roilings. At several points the surface is rhythmicized by small waves of an unknown fluid. Here and there you can see gleamingly bright swishes, pure movements, tiny fortuities. Many effects in these pictures recall forms of light refractions, which, however, cannot be specifically located. What we see, in short, is something impossible.

Guggisberg’s iPad drawings also direct the gaze to walls as if to projection surfaces – only, the walls depicted here are white. What does it mean to look at a blank wall behind the gallery wall, a blank wall on which shadows and reflexes of light are dancing? One can also see scribblings – or are they discolourings? Where do they belong? – At first, it all has the appearance of being the so-called sensuous world. Senses used: eyes – and something like the sense of coordination. This sense begins to sway and teeter somewhat. We would like very much to feel our way around the pictorial field, but there you go: What on earth is the pictorial field here?

We turn around – why shouldn’t we be able to do so? – and look for the source of light, looking perhaps out of a window. Maybe it is flooded with sunlight.

Juliane Zöllner