«I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe.»
Robert Louis Stevenson
MARCdePUECHREDON is delighted to start the New Year with the first solo exhibition in Asia of works by Uwe Walther (1965, born in Germany, lives and works in Switzerland).
The show’s highlight is a more than 12 meter wide Swiss Panorama in six parts and also includes a series of new paintings and editions. The most recent work of the artist draws on the use of Swiss national topographical maps on which he has intervened to create alternative landscapes and environments.
Uwe Walther discovered the beautifully detailed maps produced by the Federal office of Swiss topography, which are legendary among enthusiasts, deemed works of art in themselves through their level of detail in representations of settled areas, hydrography, vegetation, terrain as well as differentiated rail, road and route networks. For the artist looking into these maps, they represent both tangible and imagined realities; the ability to see an entire region topographically folded onto one sheet and yet still requiring an unseen human element to make sense of all the lines and marks.
Uwe Walther intervenes on these maps with his own imagined reality, supplanting a regimentally correct and quasi-sacred document with one in which placeless geography, confused perspectives and human trespassers interrupt the established order. However, these are far from chaotic creations, and in some instances the artist's interventions seem to heighten the reality of the maps through subtle and colourful illustrative techniques. Paradoxically, they only become confusing when close inspection reveals familiar place-names and cartographic symbols that have been suddenly rendered abstract by the artist's intervention; one reality super-seding another.
For a German living in Switzerland for most of his adult life, the artist's map works can be seen as both a desire to bring himself closer to his adopted homeland as well as also pointing out the futility of ever being able to fully comprehend one's own place on the map.
«A map reminds us constantly of what is possible, of how much we have seen, and how much we still have to see.»
Mike Parker in Map Addict: A Tale of Obsession, Fudge & the Ordnance Survey