Stuart Hamon SEEDS AND BONES
Swiss Global recognises the importance of building and protecting futures. We take our clients in hand and help them to sow the seeds of protection and to preserve the results of their hard work in robust structures to with- stand the tests of time for future generations.
These nurturing structures allow them to grow into the bones of a lifelong efficient planning vehicle for them- selves and their descendants.
Like Garda’s work, our unique perspective and our crea- tivity are our greatest asset, as Einstein once said “creati- vity is intelligence having fun”. Priding ourselves on our ability to develop creative structures, we will address our client’s immediate situation as well as be flexible enough to grow within the ever-evolving world that is internati- onal finance.
Humans are mortal, and the importance of recognising and embracing this fact drives our clients to transition their wealth from themselves to future generations using the most efficient methods available today.
These are the seeds.
Future generations will judge us on the seeds we sow and the bones that develop, born from the creativity within Swiss Global.
Stuart Hamon is director of Trusts and fiduciary services.
Julie V. Hansen, Ph.D. SEEDS AND BONES
It is part of human experience to push forward to a fu- ture and leave the past behind. What has gone before is impermanent, ephemeral, a memory encoded into resid- ual mementos.
German-Swiss artist Garda Alexander invites her audi- ence to confront this notion of mind and body through the context of scientific memory. Drawing on philosoph- ical notions of spiritual essence and biological theories of cellular time, Alexander has created a fascinating tab- leau of artifacts that serve as potent metaphors for the potential inherent in all our pasts.
Alexander’s body of work has long revolved around the merging of organic and inorganic materials into a single, beautifully attained entity. In particular, her sculptures suggest allusions to the archaeology of museums and the display of scientific relics. Using a painstaking pro- cess of multilayered glazes to achieve each richly pati- nated surface, the artist’s sculptures often contain subtle references to the evolution of living beings, transforming their likeness into complex expressions that invite us to contemplate the origins and endings of life.
A variety of precious bones derived from imaginary crea- tures are elegantly immortalized in Alexander’s Bones series. Finished in luminous gold, nickel, or bronze, these luxurious representations of osseous matter invite us to re-evaluate our notions of anthropological artifacts and the manner in which we compartmentalize the science of death. Bones have interesting associations: they are the structural platforms that hold our bodies together, and are also one of the last things to decay once a body is placed in the ground. To human societies, they are charged things, associated with a high degree of sym- bolism and spiritualism.
But where do such bones come from? While Alexan- der’s bones appear vaguely familiar, and some are based on animal bones found during her walks in the Sinai/ Egyptian desert, most are products taken from the art- ist’s imagination. Haunting, evocative, and reduced to their fundamentals, Alexander’s bones set up a clever dialogue about the value of exhibiting remains in insti- tutions. Imbued with a silent beauty all their own, these rearticulated relics embody transformation, regeneration and an allegory of death reimagined. Likewise, Alexan- der’s entrancing series reminds us of our own impending decay, challenging us to ruminate on the greater mean- ings of life and attendant mortality.
Just as the body has inspired Alexander’s investigation of forms, so too has the natural world. Deriving inspiration from the scientific theory that all life came from the sea, Alexander combined her own observations while diving in Egyptian waters. The result is a series of exquisitely crafted pieces entitled Seeds, which encourage the viewer to imagine the natural world as one endlessly varied sculpture created by divine process. Evoking both natural order and the living body, Alexander’s stylized, amorphous Seeds resemble water-dwelling animals such as sea corals and anemones. However, they also bear a strong likeness to the cerebellum of the brain, which is associated with higher brain functions such as thought and action.
Although the Seeds series are overarchingly organic in tone, their strong sense of symmetry simultaneously suggests a mechanical connection as well. This duali- ty can be linked to René Descartes’ famous argument
(1596-1650) that animals were mere automatons or ma- chines to human beings, and were denied the existence of the soul. Descartes’ model proposed that the incorpo- real mind itself was the source of all consciousness and self-awareness. This was distinguished from the physical brain as the seat of intelligence.
Alexander’s work seems to propose something similar. In the 1980s, while studying at the University of Munich, Alexander enrolled in medical courses that included dissection, pathology, and physiology. There, she expe- rienced being awestruck by her new awareness of the body laid bare. She remembers being especially moved by a study of the brain, “the source of all ideas…all the decisions we make throughout our lives were found in this small thing.”
Beginning to re-experiment with anatomical subject matter, Alexander reduced her forms into diagrammatic abbreviations, in the process creating a unique visual language. Imagining a similar symbolic representation of the brain’s electronic impulses, Alexander superimposed the vocabulary onto light boxes, envisioning them as a metaphor for the living brain and its potential.
As the metaphor of light serves as a physical reminder of consciousness, similarly, its diming could also be signifi- cant. Thus, our view of the world changes over time just as our perspective of Alexander’s art changes with our own perception.
Alexander’s Seeds resemble the shape of the brain, but are also intended as a physical representation of an idea that arises in the mind. It is an inherent rule of human experience to reach for the future and discard what has been briefly lived. All forms of life holds programs of growth, decline, and decay, a recipe of body, bone, and brain.
If Alexander’s Seeds are the representation of ideas in a living brain, then her Bones are the result of a life imple- menting these ideas. Here, the postmortem remains are collected and enshrined, a celebration of life once lived. Establishing a physical link to the natural process of birth to death, Alexander’s Bones take us full circle, a natural plea for the value of a conscious life and a memorial of its eventual fading into dust.
Julie Hansen is director of Gallery 23 in Edinburgh, Scot- land. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and has published on Baroque art and the history of science. She has organized exhibitions in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Oxford, Berlin, and Zurich.
Garda Alexander SEEDS AND BONES
It is part of human experience to push forward to a future and leave the past behind. What has gone before is imper- manent, ephemeral, a memory encoded into momentos. Our inevitable biology produces seeds that cast part of our immortal selves forward into uncertainty and leave traces of our mortal selves as relics of who we once were, of what we thought we believed.
Seeds are products created by Nature, which are then nurtured, and finally evolve into bodies and brains accor- ding to a plan.
In human organisms, it may be that our greatest creation is our ideas. Along with the information carried in our genetic encoding, these ideas become the vehicle of our futures. And when we contemplate the origin of these ideas, we are witnessing the act of potential that directs us to a single future rather than to hundred others.
Likewise, the tangible reality that results from this process provides the underlying structure that supports the individual and society. These are the bones of society. And this is the archaeology of what we leave behind.
Future generations will judge our seeds and bones.
Did we make good or bad seeds? Are all bones productive and useful? If so, should they be immortalized and ens- hrined like golden relics? Or did we leave behind forgotten bones that ossified or calcified ourselves or served as de- triments to others or society? We sow seeds of ideas and create future reality and at the same time we see within the light our mortal self.
Garda Alexander About my work: COLOUR – FORM – SPACE
My art work is inspired by nature and the human body. The work is a process in exploring new environments, materials, cultures and myself. Through my various stays abroad, I find it exciting to explore a new continent as its symbolism, language, characteristics, nature and influence to see a lasting effect on my artistic work. Each environment has an effect on us, as we also have an effect on our environment. Ideas, thoughts and observation are abstracted and reduced in forms, symbols and colours. Colours are experienced through the eye. Without light we wouldn’t see them. But does light not have another level – an energy that exists with or without light? Isn’t it like music experienced at different frequencies. The architecture of my work is very complex in the range of energy fields. Self-made paints from colour pigments are employed to build a body of layers. I am fascinated by the reflection of light on the picture surface from which always new colour nuances are brought out. This is when I hear the colours. Colour and Space – two aspects of art which I continue to explore with great interest. Is a room to be considered a form? What effect do colours have on a room and how do they alter with the changing light? And the human being who lives in the room/form: how he is reacting on it and how does the form and colour react on him? Which forms are harboured in the human body? – This is a question I asked myself in an ongoing process and I answered it through the East-West Project. When the human body is reduced down to its most basic elements, there are always geometric forms that immerge. I experimented with the interplay between Colour – Form and Light during the realization of a series of light objects. Always new colours were applied to constant picture compositions until the inherent forms seemed to awaken with a life of their own.
New series “inner life”: The works show a new design language , as a new technical implementation. Material, color, shape and image carriers are very essential for me in the implementation of image content. “Inner life” or a confrontation with my inner self– a virtual journey through my organs show organic forms – no longer the linear, scale or symbolic nature dominate the image content, but rather a new form of world that associate floral elements . It is a quest for origin and another perspective out of the range East-West. One issue that I am raising again and out in this group of works from a different angle, a different world of feeling transported to the scene with a new technique , on a new image carrier and a new world of color. The titles seem surreal, but I found no common words that could entitle the works and so I found this word creations. Other work groups are still current. It is very typical for me that I am working parallel on different groups. It’s just the angle of view or the moment that decisives the technique and the content that come across to the image surface. If I go into reduction, I need again the figurative , the inspiration of nature, man, and vice versa. And exactly in this dialogue I find the answers. Questioning and experimentation are fundamental issues of my creativity and passion. For me there are no definitive answers. It always depends on the perspective you look at something. My work is in constant change, transformation, evolution and the answers are shown or trans-formed in paintings, objects and sculptures in various work groups.
Yvonne Türler-Kürsteiner A Dialogue between East and West
Colour, form and light are the creative elements of concrete art and, in combination with space, they provide the foundation Garda Alexander’s work is based on. In contrast to concrete artists whose geometrical forms are never questioned but rather accepted as an expression of irrefutable mathematical laws, Garda Alexander lets herself be inspired by nature. Lines, triangles or squares are not the beginning but the effect – the conclusion of a sophisticated process of abstraction. Initially the forms are not obvious; instead they must be discovered first and then be given the opportunity to develop. They emerge either through a process of philosophical harmonising or by closely studying nature – a fact that becomes evident in the “East-West” range of work produced during her guest stay at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Since the artist had taken several semesters of medicine, her in-depth research into the influence two different cultures have on each other triggered associations on both sides of her brain. Much like a scientist she realised these associations in the form of pencil drawings. What appears to be technical and scientific at a first glance will, upon closer examination, reveal itself as a fluent process of form design. Lines are accentuated, while raised areas and shades compete with each other until elementary forms gradually become apparent. They provide the repertory of shapes and forms for the large-sized pieces of the series. The analogy to anatomy becomes less distinct and what emerges are powerful mixed-media works of art that are mostly reduced to three colours, frequently feature a geometrical structure and, above all, show a symbolic character. Red stands for vitality, white for unity and black for diversity. Together form and colour create a well-balanced unity that, despite strong colour contrasts, radiates tranquillity.
Balance and tranquillity are also found in Garda Alexander’s “Energy Fields”. They are coloured landscapes reminiscent of Mark Rothko’s American Field Painting in Colour and yet completely different. The creative process itself is paramount here as well. Inspired by sceneries fading at dusk, up to forty layers of paint are alternately applied and removed until a vivid surface structure is created on which the light is reflected diversely. Depending on the light and the vantage point, the paintings are constantly changing, thus letting the viewer discover continually new aspects. The artist, influenced by her drive for scientific research, predominantly used paints she made from mainly pure, natural pigments that add a special radiance to the pictures of that series. Their intense vibrations have an enchanting effect on the viewer, triggering emotions and affecting the atmosphere of the environment in which they are displayed.
A kind of synthesis of the pieces of both the “East-West” project and the “Energy Fields” series is demonstrated in Garda Alexander’s “Light Objects”. Painted elementary forms such as the square, the cross and the circle are playfully contrasted with modern technology in the form of neon light and Plexiglas. The “Light Objects” no longer offer rational convergence through the abstraction of a figuration but rather the manifestation of an internal process that distances itself from logical thinking. The fascinating result is a cross between a painting and a design object. Various elements, materials and techniques are brought together to create not only an exciting tension but mutual balance as well.
A smooth, laminated Plexiglas surface that can be illuminated by a light concealed in the back interacts with the textured surface of the canvas that is covered by various layers of paint. That “dialogue” may be further enhanced by softening the somewhat masculine material through the addition of a diffused contour of light, paying homage to the more feminine materials used in the painted part of the object. Conversely, the severe yet not exactly square cross of the painted half corresponds to the masculine aspect of the Plexiglas surface. The boundaries between Yin and Yang are blurred while feminine and masculine principles celebrate a successful interdependence. United, they create an inspiring visual, perceptible and even audible object of colour, form and light as can be witnessed in the compositions resulting from the artist’s close collaboration with the musician Manuel Stagars. In fact, the project created acoustic images when the vibrations of colour, form and light were musically transposed.
The fact that Garda Alexander has expanded her activities to include the unfiltered use of colour, form and light on living space is only a logical consequence of her interest in the impact ambient design has on people. Her in-depth studies of the philosophy of Feng-Shui began when she was a participant of the first Feng-Shui training course open to Westerners at the Huazhong Normal University in Wuhan, China. Her “Room Concepts” are a tribute to her fascination with this philosophy without merely imposing Far Eastern ideology on Western culture. That which applies to the developing process of Garda Alexander’s other serial projects can also be carried over to her ambient concept: Experience, observations and material abstractions are internally processed and then rearranged by the artist, resulting in the creation of something new. Similarly it wasn’t until she had a solid understanding of the philosophy of Feng-Shui that she adapted her findings to the Western culture. She mixes elements of Occidental symbolism and design vocabulary, a Western sense of space as well as personal or cultural preferences in her concepts of colour, form, light and ambience. The client’s customary habits and elements of the Feng- Shui philosophy are added to that combination, thus creating a kind of East-West dialogue similarly to her serial project of that title.
Another serial project realized by Garda Alexander is called “Portraits”. In fact, everything started with that series. In her early adolescence she began to passionately study and sketch the strong features of the local farmers in Bavaria. Drawing was a technique she perfected during her training at various international art schools. Live-modelling and painting from photographs were added to her skills and continue to play an important part in Garda Alexander’s work. That is not only because she is fascinated by uncovering an individual’s personality and interpreting it in a visual form but also because she finds tranquillity and inner equilibrium by studying nature and people as well as by contemplating what it means to be human. It is that which provides her with the energy and inspiration she needs in order to express herself in new creative ways.
Brigitte Selden Insight
Concrete works that are the result of ideas reduced to a few symbols and colours: The art of Garda Alexander radiates in its unwavering dedication to liberating purity and clarity. Because nothing is more real than “…a line, a colour, a surface. It is the concretisation of the creative spirit.” It was these words that Theo van Doesburg used at the beginning of the twentieth century to describe the liberation of the artistic avant-garde of the time from conventional values. Similar to her role models such as Marcel Duchamps, Garda Alexander has gone her completely own artistic direction, free from the mainstream of art. Her work is distinguished by its broadness – a fascination to choose a material, a technique or apply the medium specially for a theme, a project or a space. Born in Bavaria in 1961, Garda Alexander enjoyed a broad artistic education in Western and Eastern Europe, as well as in South America. Today, Zurich is the center of her life. The artist has already been represented in numerous solo and group exhibitions in international museums and galleries including several in both the USA and Peru. Garda Alexander continues to search answers to the questions she is confronted with in her study of form, light and colour. The work of the artist is not only about the interplay between these three central themes but also a quest for the origin of form. For her, it is a game that plays out in her objects, paintings and sculptures. This quest is the central theme in her “East-West Project” in which human forms were the starting point for the creative process. The artist, driven by an enormous enthusiasm for research, is fascinated by “the wonder of the human body”. This was the reason that she first decided to study medicine which meant the learning of anatomy through the dissection of bodies. “I dissected with passion. This may sound a bit macabre but it was so. My curiousity to see the inner world of the human body was too great to have held me back. All the experiences and medical knowledge later found their way into my “East-West Project”, recounts Garda Alexander. In this project, the path that the artist took both in thought and realisation are clear for the observer. Detailed anatomy drawings are cryptically reinterpreted and then further reduced to geometrical shapes in a most original way. One can experience subtraction in a pure form – an exceptionally fascinating process. In a somewhat other manner, Garda Alexander also concerns herself with the theme of “human being.” With her portrait work, she models the uniqueness of the subject and gives it a form.
Just as important for her with regard to conceptual work is the question of the impact of form, light and colour on the room. She sees these three elements as being inseparable from the space. In dialogue with the room, Garda Alexander develops playful, disciplined and geometric installations. Garda Alexander’s natural curiousity, as her scientific sense never passes up the opportunity to learn more about the various materials and their possibilities. “It is like my work on themes and projects: If I’m excited about something I research it continuously, trying to find out as much as possible about it”, explains the artist about her approach.
This is also valid for her work with colour. With the “Energy Fields” in particular, she predominantly used self-produced paints made from pure colour pigments. From the supply stores of another artist, Garda Alexander was able to take over a collection of exceptional colour pigments that were unique in their quality and easy to work. “Colours resonate. The more they vibrate, the more they have an effect on us and come to life in a work“, she explains. The creation of colours is like a science for Garda Alexander who is fascinated with experimenting and applying colours. This is one of the reasons why her “Energy Fields” works are so lively and – depending on the incidence of light on the picture surface – affect the observer in different ways. Garda Alexander’s “Energy Fields” are colour landscapes made of several layers of pigment, as well as slightly geometrical colour abstractions. Her colour technique frees the visual space from the objective or figurative. The artist achieves an intensity and depth of colour through a repeated application of very thin layers from which fine colour gradients in the tradition of American Colour Field Painting emerge. Light, at the same time, also plays a central role in the depth effect of the colours. In the course of her creative process with the “Light Objects”, Garda Alexander found a new dimension and a certain quality in reduction. The works are consistently and clearly reduced to a few symbols and colours. The “Light Objects” are best described as pure energy pictures that use a strict form of reduction to symbolize elements of nature. They awaken emotions and memories, as well as associations to music and sounds. With her “Light Objects”, Garda Alexander sends a subtle message to the observer. At the same time, she makes use of symbolism with origins stemming back to ancient cultural history. The circle and the cross not only represent the search for the beginning but deliverance and liberation as well. What is particularly unusual and surprising about the “Light Objects” is Garda Alexander’s combination of two very dissimilar supports: semi-transparent Plexiglas and opaque canvas. It is responsible for a degree of tension that radiates from the work while the circle of light and the reflection in the back-lit Plexiglas intensify the wealth of light. The light and shadow play together with the ever-changing daylight as a coincidence factor, merging together to continuously create new pictures – new energy fields. Initially, for her works, the artist concentrated on the six true colours of Feng Shui: white, red, yellow, green, blue and black. Now, after years of experimentation, she no longer uses pure colours but rather those which have been meticulously and especially blended for a particular project. For quite some time now, Garda Alexander has been very interested in the teachings of Feng Shui. In order to learn about this old philosophy and to better understand its cultural background, she has travelled to China on several occasions. The knowledge that she gains is then sensitively reinterpreted for the Western culture which is defined by its own symbolism and way of thinking. The diversity found in Garda Alexander’s work makes it clear that, for her, there is no conclusive truth. Her work, the result of an on-going process of change, refinement, interpretation and implementation, continuously allows for new answers to be found. Dr. phil. Brigitte Selden