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"Andreas Jaeggi’s Cityscapes and Figures Evoke a Shadowy World"

Certain artists develop techniques for evoking atmospheres in their work that become instantly recognizable stylistic signatures. One such artist is the frequently exhibited painter Andreas Jaeggi, also an opera singer, who was born in Basel, Switzerland, and is now known for his street scenes, many of New York City. Inhabitants of the city will recognize familiar places, albeit transformed by the artist's distinctive vision, in Jaeggi's recent exhibition at the Chelsea location of Agora Gallery.

In both the series that he calls "New York Zippers", painted in oils on canvas flags with side zippers and top eyelets, as well as the figure paintings that he refers to (with a bow to Picasso) as his "Blue Period", Jaeggi employs a palette of deep, saturated hues to imbue his compositions with darkly evocative dark atmospheres. One of the paintings in the former series, "New York Zippers: Thomas' Temple (Egypt in the Metropolitan Museum)", depicts the museum gallery where the ancient tombs are displayed, evoking the eerie sense of timelessness that one experiences there.

This is an especially powerful painting for its use of the interior space which projects a specific sense of place, while also functioning as a striking geometric abstraction. Jaeggi's use of somber brown and blue hues also enhances both the mood of the picture and its austere formal beauty.

Another painting in the series captures the Brooklyn Bridge in shadowy blue monochromes, enlivened here and there with sweeping strokes of white that evoke the atmosphere of a rain storm. The bridge, the harbor and the building, huddled at the shore-line, have a shadowy, almost ghostly quality, lending the composition an unusual poetic power.

Even the towers and billboards of Times Square are transformed by Jaeggi's subtle tonal magic in yet another oil. While most artists allow themselves to be seduced by the blazing neons of that fabled street, Jaeggi opts for a more characteristically lyrical quality. He presents Times Square in one of its quieter moments perhaps as seen in the first light of morning after a long night of revelry, when the signs are momentarily dimmed, and an introspective hush settles in, before "The Deuce" once again resumes its hectic hustle and bustle.

Yet another work in the series, "Treasure Island, Manhattan", is a bird's eye view of the island, predominantly in rusty brown hues that suffuse it with a sense of some ancient topography. This is one of Jaeggi's most abstract compositions, yet it is every bit as evocative as his other cityscapes in its own fashion for its somber, burnished tonalities and gracefully delineated forms.

The figures in Jaeggi's "Blue Period" series are evocative in another manner. Each painting depicts a single nude in predominantly blue hues, accented here and there with touches of the reddish brown color that the artist also favors. White highlights and, less frequently, bits of green help to flesh out these beautifully realized figures into palpable physical presences, which one encounters as though in the half-light of a dim bedroom.

By Maurice Taplinger for Gallery&Studio Magazine


Exhibition: "Spatial Transcendence"
Agora Gallery SoHo / Chelsea, New York City