“Truth lays in the shadow of doubt”
Tomi Ungerer, by chance or was it fate that had led me to the Zurich Kunshthaus last night , tired of the burgeoise gathering i swore i would never attend the art openings at the museum again but by chance i sought coffee in the area, saw the lights and noticed something was happening and my curious nose led me towards the white palace of the arts in zurich ..
It was indeed the usual crowd, well dressed dyed haired seniors who create a small closed circle where they suffocate anything that is not known familiar or easily classified and not disturbing their quiet lives..
This time the drinks were to be purchased, wine and cola and coffee were not offered “on the house”..the days of free caviar and wine flowing freely are obviously over, recession has hit the art museum at last.
A couple stood by, he a middle aged balding pink skinned Germanic type in tight jeans and a leather jacket and she, a very young African woman also in tight jeans pregnant and holding the hand of a toddler, the father carries the son as they walk through the exhibition, looking at images of prarie dogs with swastikas, a teddy bear is disected, a thin starving Asian forced to kiss the behind of Uncle Sam, images that state clearly strong political anti imperialistic ideals, anti war, anti abuse of Asia and Africa and this is for the eyes of a two year old who will have a lot to tell a therapist one day…
I stood by and watched the parade of fools, i got a glimpse of Tomi, the age of my mother exactly had she survived the open heart surgery , born at the same time in a war torn Europe in Strasbourg and lived in German occupied Alsace in 1931.
Tom is a true son of Europe and writes in three languages; English, German and French with having lived in the US, now sharing time between Ireland and Strasbourg where he seeks found objects; drift wood and objects tossed to the trash.
Tom is an amazingly fertile artist illustration, sculptures, collages, political, sexuality, children books, he does it all !
140 books he either wrote or illustrated or both.
“Otto” is a book i have read , written for children about a teddy bear who makes his way from a Jewish boy called David and torn away from him by the second world war witnessing war through the eyes of a teddy bear . I read the book and found it very touching and important to read at any age about the devastation of racism and war .
He declares himself as hating hate .
His art should disturb and does so in an honest child like innocence, he event tweets and i have tweeted him my many thanks for the exhibit.
Incognito means in hiding, perhaps hinting to the fact that free speech today is under threat or perhaps the need for the message to be stronger than the focus on the artist.
Tomi Ungerer has a museum in Strasburg that has provided Zurich Kunsthaus some art pieces on loan .
His latest project are found objects, he finds in the trash and makes art out of, a teddy bear cut in half so its digestive system is exposed, pieces of woods and bones and stone .
Water colors of fall leaves as ears of elephants or the face of a dog offer a more gentle art form in contrast to the anti war protests and sausages satire.
Many know Tomi Ungerer work as an illustrator in various magazines and “The New Yorker”
Last night was like seeing Picasso from afar, unfortunately my phone battery was empty or i would have had a silly photo with him, sitting there amongst the bourgeoisie of Zurich i could not but chuckle to myself,
is there anyway for a protest artist to win?
Embraced by society he loses his edge somehow but Tomi ‘s character promises he will not stop till his very last day, a child at heart and the world conscience in his mind, working relentlessly to say and express what he feels he needs to say incognito but well known too, a contradiction that makes you think.