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André Schweers

1963 born in Mülheim/Ruhr

studies in Fine Arts and Geography, University of Duisburg

setup & management of the Paper Studio in the Fine Arts Dept., University of Duisburg

work study trips to archaeological sights in Italy, Greece, Turkey and France

since 1992
exhibitions, group exhibitions and projects in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Netherlands, China and the U.S.

since 2010
exhibition conception and kuratorial work


Foto: Pascal Bruns


Michael Hering: Between oblivion and recollection –
“Three-dimensional notations” by André Schweers

Past cultures, forgotten ruins and lost knowledge are André Schweer’s central themes. He captures their inherent transitoriness in ephemeral études about space, form and color. His sculptural work is a tactile notation between oblivion and recollection.

In the summer of 2004, André Schweers was able to realize an unusual sculptural project in the small, moated castle Bubenheim, in the Eifel-outskirts. On the first floor of the massive tower block, directly under a huge Gothic arch, he installed a walk-in wooden sculpture of a chapel. His artistic intervention intended to recall bygone chronicles, fragments of tracery and fittings once evident in the middle-aged Chapel of Bubenheim, their actual localisation in the remodified construction being impossible. This threatened loss of recollection was reason enough for André Schweers to probe, for the duration of an installation, into the spatial and spiritual qualities of these bygone constructions, once part of the castle’s ensemble. In former times, this almost forgotten chapel was a place for silent prayer; personal comfort was sought by those in need, and thus it served an essential function for the communal life of the castle’s inhabitants in the spiritually-defined Middle Ages. Schweers used an archaic system of measures employed in the construction of sacral rooms, still relevant for the layout of chapels today, as the basis for his model. The harmonious proportions transpose the visitor into a state of contemplation. The slight misalignment of his Chapel model from the axis of the Gothic arch signifies the artificial intervention and ephemeral character of the project. In the ensemble of the Gothic arch and the tower block, his model becomes a catalyst to convey the historical mood of the place, going far beyond being solely a historical reference.

Both his sculptural projects, as well as the simultaneously exhibited paper-pulp reliefs, deal with the same artistic theme: to keep human sensitivity alert to the interaction of space, form and color.

In his sculptural models, André Schweers precisely formulates his artistic interest in the inherent qualities historical places hold, a theme already evident in his early work, Hattuscha, from 1993. With this relief, he was not engaged in archaeological fieldwork, which could possibly have induced the impression of being a prehistoric spoil. Moreover, he transferred the aura of a historical place to an image, not seeking to reproduce but, through abstraction, to capture the mood of the site, to jog our memories: an often found phenomenon in many of Schweer’s works. In light of this experience, the factual knowledge about Hattuscha, the capitol of the Hittite realm, becomes secondary.

The artist regularly returns to the formal vocabulary evident in his central body of work, Pigeonniers, exhibited in the Bubenheim castle. In conversations with the artist, he describes the intact or often dilapidated dovecots he encounters during his frequent trips to France, being fascinated by the systematic, formal order of the alcoves, engraved with traces of the past. The poured, pigmented slabs of the Pigeonniers are reminiscent of dovecots, beehives, cave systems or city models, and yet, the common individual element takes on the form of an archway: the archetype of a stably constructed, man-made plastic form—still discernible today in archaic buildings and necropoles, antique via- or aquaducts, as well as ancient archways. Presenting the Pigeonniers before the backdrop of unrestored castle walls creates a link between the assumed playful order of the reliefs and the meditative rhythm of an archaic construction.

For the body of work entitled bibliotheca conservata, André Schweers has chosen a wall in the unrestored part of the castle which houses a small gothic alcove. The row of slates seems to protrude from the alcove, undergoing a strict hierarchy on the wall and submerging the room in a symphony of color. Once again, the artist draws upon forms for recorded memory, namely old, precious books - reservoirs of knowledge and culture. Vertical rows of relief structure the paper blocks of the biblioteca conservata, suggesting scripture without actually being a book. Intense colors, ranging from pale orange to dark ruby-red, are reminiscent of incunabula, holding precious knowledge in the form of hand-written scripture. Once again, it becomes evident in a body of André Schweers’ work that he is not seeking to reconstruct trouvailles as historical books, but rather evoke the atmosphere that accompanies the browser of ancient texts or the entrance in a historical library. Undoubtedly, the works of the biblioteca conservata, regardless of their historical context, belong to the most radical formulations with respect to their intense employment of a color, so vivid it radiates far beyond the boundaries of form.

For André Schweers, the Bubenheim castle exhibition project was an artistic journey back through time, in which he encountered declined cultures, remote historical places and forgotten cultural possessions—his artistic models of choice.

Michael Hering, 2003


Marion Bornscheuer: About Travelling and Art

“The world is a book. Who never travels, sees only one of it’s pages.” Aurelius Augustinus (354-430)

“1986-1992: Work studies at archaeological sights in Italy, Greece, Turkey and France.” This is how André Schweers’ artist’s vita begins, with a previous stopover at University for a teaching degree in the subjects art and geography. Travels and art—an ideal pair from a cultural-historical viewpoint—are a central focus of interest from the very beginning.

How closely linked the connotated optical “discoveries” and the associated intellectual “knowledge” are, is referred to in Aurelius Augustinus’ quoted Aphorism. He reflects upon the ancient and yet still ongoing human desire to read nature like a book. Visual images play(ed) a central role as a medium to procure knowledge, also in the study of art and humanities. In Graeco-Roman times this was manifested in Horaz’ maxim of “ut pictura poesis”, gaining aesthetic revalidation in the 17th century view of the earth as a “world stage”.

Today, it reverberates in a modified form in Cees Notteboom’s text about literary travels: “On this beach (McClure’s Beach, California), I go solely to read, it is a book with its own script. The book is written in my presence, it continually rewrites itself. The crab etches its crooked path, the ocean washes it away. The stilt plovers write a sentence in the sand, I nod in my understanding, the waves put on a shine before slowly erasing them, yet, they remain for a short while before the seagulls’ censor changes their signs, now something else can be deciphered. Then, once again, the waves take over, leaving a line of foam. I read what is written(…).”¹

According to the topos of the artist redefining nature as “alter deus”, the writer, a declared observer, traditionally stands opposite the fine artist whose notations define him as an author. This is also true for André Schweers, in that his serially conceived paper casts define him as a chronist of his time, in that his travels involve physical and psychological, as well as spatial and chronological movement and the conservation thematizes his collected impressions (as static and eternal moments).

His body of work starting in 2001, entitled “Traces”, carry in their titles the names of the places in which they were conceived: for instance: “Eze“ (2006, France), “Ambelos” (2006, Crete) and “Stalker Castle II” (2005, Scotland). Schweers defines them as “plastic notations”². Characteristic of these works are ridges and relief-structures—physiognomical reminiscences of landscapes; the artistic process has transformed a naturalistic impression into a visualized mental map. Seeing the work through Nooteboom’s eyes, they can be viewed individually as spatial and momentarily defined “travel notes” Combined, they depict an ideal travel route, surpassing boundaries and open-ended. In the meantime, Schweers combines the “Traces” into subgroups, the synthesis of which can be understood as an atlas reflecting his artistic cosmos.

In this context, objects such as the “Librum” series from 2006 (which developed out of the work group “White Reliefs”) can be incorporated, visually reminiscent of books glued together along their spines and opening up three-dimensionally into space; they seem to be transformed through the spirit of literature into globes—and consequently evoke mental journeys. A similar idea, namely the creation of an intellectually permeated creative cosmos, underlies the series “Biblioteca conservata”, begun in 1998 and growing in the following years to a body of over 70 works, its formal repertoire encompassing scriptural tablets as well as archival stacking of poured paper. The work, “O.T.” (City layout), from 1998, which appears to be an enscribed oval plaque, could be seen as a microcosmic element belonging to this work group, yet it is a part of the “Traces” series.

Consequently, these scriptural-relief-structures of Schweers’ objects possess an underlying double meaning, wherein the equally physical and psychological connotations of terms such as “trace” and “script” fuse together; solely the titles encourage the possiblity of leaning one way or another in reading the work. Consistently, Schweers does not employ a classical sculptor’s material, such as stone, metal or wood. His material is that of an author: paper, with its qualities including both the conservatory element (archival) as well as the ephemeral (vanitas). Likewise, it is a substance reflecting universal rules that connect Schweers’ sculptural travel notes to the book of his cultural cosmos.

¹Quoted from Cees Nooteboom, “Alphabet of the Sea”, in: “Nootebooms Hotel”, translated from Dutch by Helga van Beuningen, Frankfurt/M, 2002, pp.431-433, here p. 431.
²See the text “Line, Surface, Form – Collegial Talk with Ruth Gilberger”, p. 10. For artistic technique, see ibid., p. 10.