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H. A. Sigg


In the Middle Realm III, 1994, Acrylic on canvas, 50" x 70"  Colorfield rectangle abstraction with brown in the foreground, with horizon and dark sky.

H.A.Sigg, In the Middle Realm III, 1994, Acrylic on canvas, 50" x 70"



Hermann Alfred Sigg was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1924. After studying at the School of Applied Art, Zurich with, among others, former Bauhaus master and color theorist Johannes Itten, Sigg, like many art students before and after World War II, went to Paris, where he attended the Acade'mie Andre' Lhorte in 1947. Lhote (1885 - 1962), a member of the Cubist circle early in the century, was a noted writer on art and teacher during the 1940s and 50s. In Paris, Sigg became enamored with French art and culture, and admired the Post-Impressionists, especially Bonnard. While the influence of Bonnard was most apparent in Sigg's figurative paintings of the 1950s, the palette and color fields in his later abstract landscapes still occasionally evoke Bonnard's work. Sigg's development of aerial landscape imagery began in 1968 with travel to Southeast Asia as an "artist in residence in the sky" for Swissair, which had previously purchased several of his paintings. From the singular vantage point of the cockpit, Sigg made sketches from which he developed the abstractions of terraced fields and rivers characteristic of his work from the 1970's. On the ground, the artist visited temple sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and made drawings of the sculpture; he also became a passionate collector of Southeast Asia and Khmer sculpture. As a result of his travels, which also included India and Thailand, Sigg began to explore interior architectural space as well as the infinite space of the aerial landscape in his new paintings. Other study trips to Italy, Greece, the Middle East, Nepal, China, and to Guatemala, Mexico and the American West provided inspiration. Since his Southeast Asia trip, the river has become increasingly abstract and distilled, like shorthand or calligraphy. For Sigg, the river is a "mysterious force" with a spirit of its own. In this series, the river becomes a metaphor for passage through life and the human search for the inner self and enlightenment. In articulating his river imagery, the artist discovered Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha which became an important influence. Throughout the novel. Siddhartha encounters the river as a changing yet constant, regenerating force, something to listen to and learn from, like life itself.

*Excerpted from The Art of H.A. Sigg by Robert M . Murdock