O.T. - as he signed - was an emblematic artist of the Gugging hospital, where he was interned because of the psychosis he began to suffer upon returning from the siege of Stalingrad. His drawings, antitheses of the horror vacui, are characterized by their minimalism, the purity, the economy of means and effects, the sense of balance and space. Admired by Michel Thévoz, who devoted several feature articles to him, he also fascinated David Bowie and Brian Eno, who met and collected him. His works can be found in countless collections, such as those of Arnulf Rainer (Austria), abcd/Bruno Decharme (France) or the Pinacothèque Hervé Lancelin (Luxembourg).
O. T., as Tschirtner used to sign his works, lived a very introverted life, really attached only to his bible. His life is reflected in his artistic oeuvre. Tschirtner’s “people” are devoid of all attire; no garments or genders can be made out in those humanoids, his “cephalopods”. When he tackles other subjects, the artist becomes even more frugal in his portrayal of shapes. A “landscape” may cross the paper in a single line, an animal appear as a mere dot; inversely, “peace” can adopt any shape.
Occasionally Tschirtner also coloured his drawings – using one colour, rarely two, never more. The elaborate focus placed on his themes, combined with the radical simplification, speaks of a deep inner message.
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Gugging : the crazed in the hot zone, from Septembre 2nd to October 22th, 2017.