Bea Künzli


Works in iron, bronze torsos, plaster figures, wood sculptures

Bea Künzli creates works of art that evoke stories, old stories but also contemporary ones. She works with different materials and breathes new life into her finds from nature and civilisation by collecting what appeals to her sense of beauty and shape: wrought-iron door locks, rusty grates, a broken garden appliance and a traditional tool, but also roots and branches with a special shape. She brings the finds to her workshop, turns and rotates them, and when the time is right she uses them to create sculptural works. In addition, she also creates works in plaster and wood, and models in wax and clay for what will later be concrete and bronze casts. And she often brings the two procedures together, combining found material with new designs to create three-dimensional sculptures and objects.
Bea Künzli, born in the canton of Ticino/CH in 1960 and raised there, moved to Zurich at the age of 20 and spent a long time working as an assistant in a medical practice. After training to be a creative therapist (IGT 1992), she developed her own artistic work, at first painting and black-and-white photography. Then came the integration of different materials and the concentration on three-dimensional works. Nature is an important source of inspiration for the artist. The senses of sight and touch as well as craft in its original sense are the defining aspects: seeing and touching, then grinding, filing, planing, modelling, polishing, forging and pouring. Bea Künzli is familiar with the widest range of techniques and, where required, also works in other workshops outside of her atelier. Important thematic aspects are existential human challenges such as love, loss and transience (she is also involved in looking after people suffering from dementia).
Most of the works by Bea Künzli are in a small to medium-sized format, and where she processes fragments, they are minimally invasive – to use a phrase from medicine. They are small intrusions; great respect for what is there is noticeable. What was the item discovered? What intrinsic beauty does it possess? What can it become? A small plinth, a support to keep a figure in place, two notches in a wood cylinder on which to stabilise an iron element. Künzli creates abstract objects as well as charming, figure-like works, which are deliberately not given a title. Four old mole traps in iron wire, upright as a group on a small, dark iron square; three have a greenish patina, one is black. Who is this other one? A dark body stands slightly hunched on two thin legs. The initial shape was a rotten piece of wood. The artist saw it and recognised some kind of being in it. She added to the piece and cast it in bronze. She thus translates something weathered into moving allegories for the “condition humaine”. Or a couple, created with a wink from two garden shovels, standing there as though they have belonged together for a long time. And three different small arrows, welded onto a dark plate one behind the other, become magical columns.
Everything speaks of people and nature, of life. That which has grown and has been created, is thrown away or later lost, then is taken up and turned into something artistic with a sensitive flair for shapes, the spaces in between, and for surfaces. Bea Künzli’s works, those which integrate found items as well as those from a mould, don’t just stimulate eyes and thoughts. Her works are also attractive to the sense of touch.
Marietta Rohner, Art historian, Zurich 2014


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