Wittwer was born in Zurich in 1954, where he lives and works.
Since the beginning of his career in the middle of the eighties Wittwer’s multifaceted oeuvre has been dealing with the question of the truth content of images. His paintings and watercolors take the viewer to poetic, dream-like and unfamiliar pictorial worlds that challenge one’s viewing habits. In search of motifs for his compositions Wittwer conducts an intensive research and delves into certain topics by means of literature, (art-) history publications and the study of old masters. He collects images from the Internet that he then uses as templates for his paintings and drawings. These are carefully selected and transferred to the canvas and paper with complex methods that modify the original. Wittwer’s wide-ranging series show still lives, portraits and landscapes that are often adaptions of works by other artists such as de Hooch, Poussin, Caravaggio or van Belcamp. Empty interiors and military sceneries are also recurrent subjects such as in the series “Camp” from 2006, in which he outlined the daily routines of soldiers in the Vietnam War.
Wittwer’s works are often figurative and yet, it is not the subject alone that concerns the artist, but also the pictorial process that the original motif undergoes. It is a tireless deconstruction in pictorial fragments, a filtering and extracting, to finally carve out not just the motif but rather its pictorial potential and to critically reflect the document of the past that served as a reference. Elements are turned into negative or disguised by the blur of a soft brush stroke. In his new work “At the Table after Caravaggio” (148 × 163 cm) single elements are repeatedly painted over with pastel shades, brought to the fore as floral details or artefacts or even doubled, as here in the case of the central figure of Christ. Other areas are obscured by black holes, shadows or the erasure of a detail and cannot be easily explained. The multi-layered structure of the pictorial surface shows an unevenness that, despite its beauty, often seems to hide a latent threat. These are fragmented insights into a world that inspires one to question what has been seen.
Uwe Wittwer is part of the collections of international institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; UBS Art Collection; Credit Suisse Art Collection; Caldic Collection, Rotterdam; Swiss Confederation; Kunsthaus Zurich; Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen; Kunstmuseum Bern; Kunstmuseum Solothurn; Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht. His works have been exhibited in international museums such as Tate Britain, London (2011) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006) as well as published in many monographic catalogues. In our upcoming group exhibition opening on January 19, 2018 Wittwer will present three of his newest works. His first solo exhibition in the Galerie Peter Kilchmann is planned for 2019.