H.A. Sigg: Recent Paintings 2021

Walter Wickiser Gallery

Mar. 26, 2024 - May. 1, 2021

Online Virtual Exhibition
New York,


H.A. Sigg – Painting at a Crossroads

H.A. Sigg, more especially in the works from the later part of his career, is both a radically Modernist artist and one who is closely linked to aspects of the 19th century Romantic tradition. Additionally, these paintings stand at yet another crossroads; the intermingling of a purely European art traditions with others that come from the Far East. In addition to this, his work shows, in a quite literal sense, an affinity for the most contemporary methods of travel.

In these later paintings, Sigg gazes reverently at nature, which supplies him with intense, complex visual experiences that he distills into powerful symbolic forms presented in two dimensions. As the work develops it becomes less and less about offering any kind of illusion. While the spectator is aware of what the sources are – what, in broad terms the artist must have seen, there is, however, no attempt to reproduce the visual experience directly. What is evident however, is how the ‘travel’ from observation of the world to the creation of signs registered the impact of what has been seen on the artist’s psyche – an increasing interest in the religious and philosophical cultures of India and the South-East Asia. Linked to this, and here I use the word ‘travel’ in a less metaphorical sense, was the experience of flight.

We tend to forget how very recently air travel has become available and how commonplace it has become. Widespread travel by air only became accessible to sections of a – still mostly Western – public in the years that followed World War II. Leonardo da Vinci could imagine the experience of flight, but it was never directly available to him. Nor was it available to artists, or indeed to anyone, until it was provided by rapid 20th century technological development.

Painting that used this new reality as one of its major sources requires a profound contempt for detail and the need to synthesize and transfigure everything. That is what one meets in these canvases. Yet their hold on what we call ‘reality’ – direct observation of the world – remains strong. It is something that distinguishes Sigg from a host of contemporary abstractionists.

Sigg’s work as a painter offers three salient characteristics. The first is a directly traceable line of descent from art movements that preceded Modernism, but which nevertheless offered fertile soil for the growth of what proved to be key modernist ideas. The second is a link to traditional Far Eastern transcendentalist ideas and impulses. The third, perhaps surprisingly, is an entirely different link to the advanced technology of flight that is helping to shape the world we all inhabit – a technology now so widely accepted that it carries no real element of surprise. Except, maybe, when it surfaces as an integral and essential element in works of art that, in other respects, employs impeccably traditional means of physical presentation to make the image radically new.

Edward Lucie-Smith
London, February 201

Return to list of all exhibitions