190 x 450 x 5 cm
Elemi on canvas
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
The painter and sculptor Philippe Weber Jahanguir (born 1963 in London, UK) has roots in two cultures: Western culture, and Iranian, Islamic culture with its rich ornamentation which he encountered and learned to love in places like the carpet warehouse owned by his grandfather. Jahanguir grew up in Zurich, an important historical center of Concrete Art, and he is fluent in Concrete and Constructivist artistic language. After training to become a mechanic and a metalsmith, he completed an internship in the architecture firm of Schnebeli, Ammann Ruchat and Partner in Zurich. From 1984 to 1986, he attended classes in construction and visual design at the Department of Architecture of the ETH in Zurich as an auditor. His fascination with Le Corbusier’s vision of creating a unified design concept for all facets of life led him to design and produce his own line of furniture.
Inspired by Kandinsky’s world of forms and colors, he also began to explore visual art. He first focused on a geometric matrix that remained more or less unchanged but could be expanded at will within a picture format that did not limit forms or lines. In the 1990s, he created compositions consisting of arrangements of broad, regular stripes that sometimes traverse colored fields or cross over other stripes. The artist applied these foundational lines by hand with the utmost accuracy, as if with a stencil, ensuring that the colors are clearly demarcated and the structure of the forms is precisely attuned to the coloration. Jahanguir creates nuanced shades of colors primarily by applying paint in many thin, translucent layers. This allows him to generate a light in the depths of his paintings that interacts with the light in the surrounding space.
In 2010-2011, he began to focus on the ellipse as a basic form. The ellipses in his works act as shapes defining an empty space, as can be seen in the work “Zan” from 2011, which is part of the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv. In the areas where the empty ellipses meet the dark picture ground, the dark color seems to slowly fade away. The ornamental forms also radiate a kind of inner peace of simple symmetry, although they belong to a system that often imperceptibly breaks up this symmetry. The elliptical elements are fragmented by the picture’s rectangular format, which transforms them into bistable white forms. Thus what at first could be mistaken as the picture ground is quickly recognized as vibrant, floating ellipses. The artist also works with ellipses and circles in his sculptural works. His “Lotos-Ringe” [Lotus Rings] (2000–2007) seem to frame empty space, while his columns express openness and a striving toward infinity.
Jahanguir’s work is the result of introspection and the observation of mental processes; it is intended to visualize timelessness. The artist strives toward the formation of emptiness, which was also the title of his exhibition (“Formung der Leere”) at the Galerie Jamileh Weber in 2011. This brings to mind a saying by Lao-tze: “What is visible, what exists, lends the work its form. The invisible, nothingness, lends it meaning and essence.”
Dominique von Burg