Singular and mercurial, the oeuvre of the Swiss artist André Thomkins defies easy art historical categorisation. The product of a capacious and supple imagination, it encompasses uncanny drawings, music, sculptures and wordplay, utilising techniques such as anagrams and palindromes. Influenced by Surrealism and Dada and celebrated as a ‘schwebsel,’ or a floating soul, by friends and collaborators including Daniel Spoerri, Dieter Roth, George Brecht, Richard Hamilton and Karl Gerstner, Thomkins has gained a reputation as an ‘artist’s artist’, and is considered one of the most important Swiss artists of the second half of the twentieth century.Read More
Highly inventive, Thomkins creations are inspired by a deep fascination with everyday materials such as rubber, wood, printed matter and found items. Adopting classical avant-garde strategies such as transformation and combination, Thomkins oeuvre has a playful and associative quality. Being an outstanding draughtsman and watercolourist, Thomkins experimented with delicate multi-directional configurations and repeating patterns as a breeding ground for unique, iconographic creations, in which space and architecture appear as ambivalent and dynamic constructs populated by fantastic puppet-like beings.
Lackskins are the most vibrant and sensuous of all the artist’s creations. Made over the course of 30 years–from 1955 when he first discovered the technique until his death in 1985–these works epitomise the delicate interplay between chance and skill that animates his art. Thomkins created these otherworldly and amorphous forms by floating a coat of lacquer paint on the surface of water, before blowing, dripping, pulling and stirring the liquid. In exploring and harnessing the behaviour of water and lacquer, he arrived at works with startling vitality and extraordinary powers of evocation, where vivid blooms of colour interlace like bodily organs or outlandish landscapes.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.