DRAWINGS FOR A VISION OF THE FUTURE

Kunz’s drawings were first publicly shown in the 1970s some years after her death, when her work came to the attention of Swiss curator Harald Szeemann (1933–2005), who wrote:

'Her gift was an awareness of connections that contradicted both normal experience and scientific interpretations of the laws of Nature and art. This was a supernatural event, a miracle that, in revealing divine truths conveyed a secret impulse on a par with that of cosmic creation. Emma Kunz’s drawings are attempts to find a universal connection. They are the records of her concentration on the question of the Whole.'

Kunz discovered her gifts for telepathy, prophesyand healing at an early age and practised asa naturopath, dedicating her research to therestorative energies of plants and minerals.In 1938, at the age of forty-six, she first beganmaking large pendulum-assisted drawings.She used radiesthesia as a drawing technique,where she would pose a question to her diviningpendulum and discover the answer within thegeometric drawing she made from recording thependulum’s swings, starts and stops onto graphpaper. She was known to work continuously oneach drawing for periods that could stretch overtwenty-four hours.Kunz sought to gain a greater understanding ofnature and the world through these drawings,and her questions to the pendulum ranged fromthe political to the philosophical and personal. 

The works are not titled, rarely dated, and Kunzrefused to record their particular meanings.For her, each combination of colour, shape andthickness of line, drawn with graphite and colourpencils, held significance. Acknowledging herdrawings’ potential to offer different readingsover time, or to hold layers of meaning, Kunzwould use existing drawings as guides todiagnose patients seeking her help for ailmentsof the body and mind. Her drawings arevisual manifestations of her spiritual andphilosophical research.Kunz’s work was first exhibited posthumouslyin 1973, and she has since gained recognitionthrough numerous group exhibitions. Herpractice is underpinned by her belief in aholistic worldview. Systematic yet expansivein their compositions, her energy-field drawingssimultaneously contain micro and macroperspectives of nature and the cosmos. 

She neverviewed her extra-perceptions as miraculous,instead recognising that materialisationand industrialisation had buried mankind’sconnection to nature, and believing that inher case these natural intuitions had simplyremained intact. Kunz's drawings chime withcurrent discourses on ecology, as well as thenecessity to forge meaningful connectionswith the environment.

Art historian Dawn Ades has written on Kunz’scomplex compositions: ‘Kunz’s drawings areimmediately striking for their size, precision,colourfulness, complexity and variety. At firstthey can appear to be repetitive, their varietyoverlaid by misleading associations with thespirograph and with the symmetrical shiftingpatterns of the kaleidoscope. It soon turns outthat what appeared to be the kinds of repetitionsand simple symmetries typical of these devicesis an illusion. 

The drawings are on a visuallyimmersive scale; the viewer’s gaze switchesbetween detail and whole, taking in the overall,often pulsating rhythm of the meticulouslyprecise lines. Symmetry is often illusory, aswith Work No. 117, whose four elongated yellowdiamond shapes have three different internalsquare patterns.’

Kunz’s work fluctuates; it is in vibration, holding itself between materialization and dematerialization. The drawings oscillate like a pendulum between the temptation to evade the surface and to levitate, and to submit to the laws of gravity. As a trembling phenomenon, the drawings bring us into a field of energy, of intensities. It is through this network of intensities that beauty is suddenly revealed.

YASMIN AFSCHAR ON EMMA KUNZ AT PARASITE EXHIBITION, HONG KONG, 2020:

Drawings on graph paper began in 1938 until her death with around 500 works completed. 

No drawings are dated, titled or signed and recognised as tools for her healing preoccupation, a means of her practice. 

Each drawing was based on a question possibly posed by a patient of hers or something personal. 

Many of the works have a central perspective and reminiscent of a mandala in structure. 

During her lifetime the drawings were never publicly exhibited.

She made a statement that her drawings were 'destined for the 21st century'. 

Held a controversial status a single woman as an active healer and 'strange' life. 

Emma died in 1963, most likely from cancer. Her final drawing (Work No. 190) represents a very reduced mode of drawing with a pyramid and yellow colouring symbolic of the spiritual and divine. 

Watch the full talk here: http://www.para-site.art/programme/garden-of-six-seasons-closing-reception-yasmin-afschar-on-emma-kunz/

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