The below text is an excerpt from Bice Curiger's catalogue essay which accompanied the exhibition of Markus Döbeli with Marc Jancou Contemporary in 2021.
Are 'non-representational' and 'abstract' interchangeable terms? Does anyone still engage in such intellectual nit-picking? What is so engaging about Markus Döbeli's journey as an artist is its uncontrived openness,deftly probing progression and total absence of a theoretical and ideological straightjacket. In a disconcertingly elementary way, Döbeli has carvedout a space for himself, the apparent uniqueness and simplicity of which leaves you rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Every single work he creates taps into the rich, inexhaustible wellspring that is the delicate, flowing application of colour. Concentration and trust in the coherence of action –his guiding force–are his mental tools.
Post-war modernism was definedby the absolute sovereigntyof abstraction,by notions of 'pure painting' whicheschewed illusionism and anyreplication of reality, and followed its ownmaterial laws. Stripped of references to the life-nexus, painting was also supposed to remain completely detached from other art formslike music, theatre and literature. Rejectingthe naivety and vulgarity of the man-made worldand industrialised everyday life, a knowing mind was to open up the sense and the potential of artto new spaces of experience. In retrospect, however, the imperative of dissociation andthe pathos of the tabula rasa, of liberation and renewal always played a part despite the deployment ofobjectivity and rationality to keep emotionsin check.
Döbeli knows all this and leaves that world behindfor one where focussing on what is happening on the canvas dominates–gentle actions, looking and perceiving.
The full text first appeared in the Markus Döbeli exhibition catalogue "Paintings and Watercolours" published by Marc Jancou Contemporary in 2022.