The Human Being Before Birth: Andreas Jaeggi as
an Artist-in-Residence for the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre (France).
Swiss Illustrated Magazine
The Best of Culture
"Andreas Jaeggi, Jack of All Trades"
Success Across the Borders: Andreas Jaeggi performs on stage at the Paris Opera as a soloist. The tenor from Basel makes a parallel career as a painter – in Switzerland and in France.
He is an artistic man, through and through, this Andreas Jaeggi from Basel. "Singing, painting and drawing are like breathing, eating and drinking to me," he points out. "And, especially as a visual artist, I need to be able to hold my breath for a very long time in order to survive." Unlike in his singing.
As a tenor, he will be on the stage of the National Opera of Paris / Bastille in three productions this upcoming season. And this in three different languages: in Richard Strauss' "Salome" he'll sing in German, in Massenet's "Werther" in French and in Britten's "Billy Budd" in English. "These are exciting projects," Jaeggi exclaims happily. Singing is like a top competiton sports discipline for him, daily vocal training therefore mandatory. "For my mental balance, my artwork is also extremely important to me," emphasizes the fully-fledged art designer.
Due to his regular work abroad, feelings of restlesness, abandonment, loneliness and homelessness are awoken within the singer. Through his painting, he creates a new home in foreign territory. Painting ustensils are therefore always in his luggage. First there are the music scores, then brushes and paint tubes, and in the end, there is only room for just a couple of T-shirts. "I paint everywhere and every day, even on the kitchen table," he recounts. And he laughs. "Because I can not wait until I am back home in Basel to paint."
Now, the Museum for Natural History in Le Havre (France) has invited him there to be a guest artist. As an Artist-In-Residence, he created a series of works for the exhibition "Before Birth, 5000 Years of Images". The show, curated by Alain Germain, includes amongst many other objects an Acient Egyptian mummified foetus in a painted sarcophagus and life-sized wax models from the 19th Century.
All the museum rooms have been painted black in order to give each individual exhibited object a strong presence, including the spaces showing Jaeggi's works. He made seventeen paintings and four drawings within fourteen days. "The most difficult part was the mental preparation and studying pre-natal pictures." The works of art are inspired by three-dimensional high-tech echographies, furnished by the specialist Jean-Marc Levaillant.
The big canvases come across as sketchy and gestual. The painter has given an identity to these anonymous beings. Definitely not child's play. "The representation of an unborn is extremely demanding. Very easily it can look either like a monster or too cute."
Le Havre – Paris – Basel: Andreas Jaeggi's calendar is full. His American life partner of many years, Ron Rubey, takes care of shuffling his contracts and handling the finances and office work. "Without him, I could not accomplish all of this. Ron lifts these tasks from my back so I am free to create."
The artist and the former professional dancer live in a lavish Art Nouveau apartment near the Basel Zoo. "I can only enjoy my gypsy-style life because we have this beautiful home base," admits Jaeggi. Whenever time permits, he retires to his studio in the basement in the evening. He extracts the pictures out of his head and places them onto canvas. Swiftly and with ease.
This lightness is also reflected in his motives. A house, caught through the window of an airplane or seen from the depth of an urban canyon. The spiraling staircase of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The "Mona Lisa" in the Louvre. Works which provoke through their unusual perspective a different way of seeing.
If you cannot make it to Le Havre to see Andreas Jaeggi's latest artwork, you might also encounter it in Basel at the moment. "Beautiful Views" is a show of around 100 paintings and sculptures from the artist at the Trafina Private Bank. The exhibition demonstrates his artistic diversity and brings to light his unbelievable creative urge.
By Isolde Schaffter-Wieland
"To paint an embryo is not child's play." Andreas Jaeggi, Artist