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Thomas Huber

Pictet espace, 2005
watercolour on paper
114.0 x 144.0 cm
In 2004, at the invitation of Pictet & Cie, Thomas Huber began developing a project for the bank’s new headquarters. Visiting the old premises and the new building site, and going over the floor plans and digital images of the future building, the artist absorbs the spirit of the enterprise and its environment. In keeping with his usual practice, Huber works out his first studies in watercolour and presents them to the bank in order to discuss the project’s direction. Pictet was immediately won over by the power of these images and the world they conjure up, and in 2005 commissioned a collection of three paintings for the hall of the second floor, which were hung in 2006.

The preparatory watercolours are like fragmented views of potential paintings. For Huber, this exercise serves as a laboratory for experimenting with colour, spatial structures and decorative schemes. He creates imaginary spaces that are seen in perspective from different angles. As the artist explains it, “The classic idea is to compare the painting to a window. I prefer the idea of a door that allows one to go in”. Numerous openings admit an intense white light into the rooms. The spare architecture with its classic vocabulary is uniquely underscored by red and black frames that function like mediators between the space and its painted representation. These frames stress the depth of the spatial construction and demonstrate the evocative power of painting.

Huber frequently reproduces other images in his pictures, notably from his own earlier works, playing on the repetition of a painting within a painting. Here, for the first time, he features black-and-white landscapes on the walls. These mountain views exist as paintings and murals, but with their smooth brushwork and absence of relief, it seems as if they were being drawn into the wall.
Thomas Huber, Pictet espace, 2005