Uwe Wittwer - The Dance Negative after Watteau 2010

Uwe Wittwer: In The Middle Distance

18 January - 16 March 2013

Abbot Hall Art Gallery’s first exhibition of 2013 showcases the dazzling images of Zurich-based artist Uwe Wittwer (b.1954). It is an exciting departure for Abbot Hall to be exhibiting the work of a Swiss painter whose brilliantly executed oils, watercolours and large-scale prints explore complex themes through the appropriation, transformation and distortion of European and British old master paintings and found photographic material sourced from the internet.

Central to the exhibition will be a dramatic and ambitious full-size version of Abbot Hall’s iconic seventeenth-century triptych, The Great Picture, produced especially for this show; at nearly five metres wide, Wittwer’s painting will dominate the exhibition, in the company of other unsettling and uncanny transformations after European and British old masters such as Hogarth, Gainsborough, Watteau and Constable – the types of painters whose works might hang in the traditional Georgian galleries downstairs at Abbot Hall.

Watch Anna Mustonen from Haunch of Venison interview Uwe Wittwer.

Another elaborate new work, Blowup, comprises 78 framed watercolour ‘stills’ from the cult British film of the same name, and further develops themes that have always been central to Wittwer’s art, such as the capacity of the image to mislead and deceive the observer, the blurring of legibility and meaning through the distortion of scale, and the way the most seemingly benign picture can carry intimations of terrible violence. Similar concerns are carried through to the end of the show with the inclusion of five arresting, large-scale inkjet prints.

‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with Uwe Wittwer on this selection of stunning, haunting images that has been tailor-made to fit the historic interiors of Abbot Hall. The exhibition is ambitious in the scope and breadth of its vision, but the works are unified by the power of Wittwer’s imagination and his supreme skills as a painter and image-maker. The show will operate on so many levels, both visually and intellectually, and promises to be spectacular.’ Nick Rogers, Curator, Lakeland Arts Trust

The exhibition has been conceived in close collaboration with the artist.


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  • Uwe Wittwer, The Dance Negative after Watteau (detail), 2010 © The Artist


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