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Rudolf Urech-Seon - A Foreign Visitor

From 1913–1916, Rudolf Urech-Seon attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich and undertook study trips to Germany, Austria and Italy. After an intensive study of post-impressionist forms, he began to use Villard's division canon to underlay his paintings with a carefully calculated geometric construct of lines. The earthy hues of these early abstractions from the 1930s were based on his then still strong reference to landscape. Later, Urech-Seon developed his own colour vocabulary consisting of only a few strong colours, which, in contrast to the earthy tones, seem unnatural – as if they were fictional and otherworldly. Blue, red, yellow, purple and turquoise became the artist's signature colours.

Rudolf Urech-Seon

During the Second World War, Urech-Seon was one of the few artists in Switzerland to incorporate the world events into his work. To point out his critical thoughts around the rise of Nazism and the resulting wartime events, he increasingly created works with a surrealistic and organic formal language, some of which have clearly descriptive titles such as Der Anschluss (The Annexation, 1938), Dämonen (Demons, 1942) or Schwere Auseinandersetzung (Serious Confrontation, 1945).

In 1947, Rudolf Urech-Seon joined the artist group Allianz, which included members such as Max Bill, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Richard Paul Lohse. In the following years, he took part in three exhibitions of the Allianz – 1947 at Kunstverein St. Gallen, 1947 at Kunsthaus Zürich and 1954 at Helmhaus Zürich – and participated at the Salons des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris in 1948 and 1950. In the 1950s, Urech-Seon created his late work in quiet seclusion, which is characterised by a reduced formal language, fine lines and precisely defined surfaces. Until a few months before his death in July 1959, he continued to create new compositions, leaving behind an extensive body of work. Posthumously, solo exhibitions were dedicated to him at Aargauer Kunsthaus in 1976 and 1991, and in 1981 several works of his were shown in the renowned exhibition Dreissiger Jahre Schweiz. Konstruktive Kunst 191545 at Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Since then, his œuvre has remained in the family estate, largely hidden from the public for several decades.

Rudolf Urech-Seon - Fremder Gast

In the work Fremder Gast (1949) a mysterious figure with a violet cape is confronting us. Absolute symmetry pervades the picture, even in the placement of the monogram and the date in the lower corners of the picture. The oversized, azure-blue head, consisting of a decagon, shows abstract, anonymous facial features with two fine, curved lines. The head and feet touch the edge of the painting, thus intensifying the presence of this extraterrestrial-looking creature in the picture. Bright yellow and red form a strong contrast to the cold blue and purple tones and emphasize the lower body. A red oval shape in the lower centre reminds of a stylised female gender - the alien guest thus seems to be female. However, this presumed fertility symbol does not make it clear who or what this foreign guest might be. Is it a character from a science fiction film? Maybe a robot, a humanoid hybrid, or an alien? The work Fremder Gast stimulates the viewer's imagination and takes the viewer into the artist's extraordinary dream world.

Rudolf Urech-Seon - Studie zu "Wald kubistisch", 1931
Rudolf Urech-Seon »Studie zu "Wald kubistisch"«, 1931, Inv.-Nr.5-794

The work Studie zu "Wald kubistisch" (1931) illustrates Rudol Urech-Seon's experimental use of cubist forms and shows his transition from classical landscape painting to abstraction, which will reach its peak in the 1940s.
Thick brushstrokes depict the landscape in a simplified form. The horizon is traced with an arc and the rounded, warped squares in the foreground indicate fields. Along the horizon line, jagged shapes remind of fir trees. This formal structure is repeated on the left, creating a forest. Two dark, tapering areas rise up behind the trees, possibly depicting mountains in the distance. The sky is divided into many cubistic fields, which are coloured in varying intensities.
Although Urech-Seon abstracts the landscape to a large extent, elements can still be recognised and interpreted. With a predominantly linear painting and the ink technique, the artist achieves an experimental examination of materiality, form, line and surface in this work.

About artist
Rudolf Urech-Seon
Seon, 1876 — 1959

After his apprenticeship as a house painter, Rudolf Urech (18.2.1876, Seon - 23.7.1959, Seon) established a painting business in his home village Seon in the canton of Aargau in 1905 and married Marie Baumann in the same year. Despite a secured family and professional situation, Urech decided close his business to attend the Munich Art Academy from 1913 to 1916 and pursue an artistic career. In 1918 he returned to Seon and rarely left the village after that. From then on he called himself Urech-Seon to differentiate himself from the Basel painter Rudolf Urech (1888–1951).

He began his artistic career as a naturalistic landscape painter, which helped him become a member of the GSMBA and to participate in cantonal exhibitions in 1920. But very soon, he developed compositions centered on constructive elements such as line, surface, and rhythm, which finally led to a fully abstract visual vocabulary in intense colors. Urech-Seon is the first and for a long time the only abstract painter in the canton of Aargau. However, his path to abstraction was heavily criticized in his native circles of artists. In the absence of like-minded people, Urech-Seon visited the avant-garde exhibitions in Zurich and Basel (1932 Picasso, 1933 Braque, 1938 Le Corbusier) and found confirmation of his own artistic path there. Only when he joined the Allianz (Association of Modern Artists in Switzerland) in 1947 did his work gain recognition. As a result, he showed his works in the Allianz exhibitions at the Kunstverein St. Gallen (1947), the Kunsthaus Zürich (1947) and the Helmhaus Zürich (1954), as well as in 1948 and 1950 as part of the Salon des Realités Nouvelles in Paris.