Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
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Urs Fischer (b. 1973)

Lemon Hand

Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
Lemon Hand
signed and dated 'Urs Fischer 2006' (on one side)
hydrocal, acrylic paint, polyurethane glue and hair
6¾ x 8½ x 2¾in. (17 x 21.5 x 7cm.)
Executed in 2006
Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006.
J.T.D. Neil, 'The Fischer King', in Art Review, December 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 71).
B. Curiger, M. Gioni and J. Morgan, Urs Fischer, Shovel in a Hole, Zurich 2009, p. 459 (illustrated in colour, p. 380).
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Lot Essay

'What we do as artists is not to dissect; we do the assembling. So I just think: 'I make this; that's what I do'. I don't have to justify anything to anybody because when you do that, when you want those kinds of answers as somebody looking at art, you don't get shit out of it. You don't enjoy the stuff you see. The advantage of art is that it just does what it does. You look at this lemon, it's a lemon, that's it. There's nothing more to it'
(U. Fischer, quoted in J. Griffin 'Urs Fischer: The reluctant interviewee', in The Art Newspaper, issue 234, April 2012).

Created in 2006, the same year that the artist exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, Urs Fischer's Lemon Hand is a playful and humorous self-portrait. Employing the hand as a stand-in for the artist, Fischer creates a surreal metonym for himself as sculptor, presenting the artist's hand, its thumb firmly capped with a lemon. Cast from the artist's own hand, the tactility of the textured surface is startling, with the artist's hair clearly visible on the cast surface. Evoking his worn, toiled hands, the coarsened nails, veins, and pores of the weathered skin denote traces of the artist's hand on the indexical bodily impressions. The unexpected fusion of everyday components assumes a surreal, uncanny tone. In its hand-crafted aesthetic Lemon Hand continues to playfully assert Fischer's presence as artist and mark-maker. The hand, standing as proxy for the human form, places the work within the art historical canon of artists using hands as symbolic self-portraits of sorts, utilised by such diverse artists as Auguste Rodin to Bruce Nauman.

Influenced by the artist's celebrated exhibition at Palazzo Grassi in 2012, where he presented his artist's studio as an installation, Fischer work spans several media, incorporating materials as diverse as foodstuff, wax, taxidermy, mirrors and paint to explore the very essence of what it means to be an artist. Fischer draws inspiration from everyday objects turning the banal into extraordinary, bewildering creations. The lemon reappears throughout Fischer's oeuvre, most notably in the Problem Painting, 2012 exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles illustrating 1940s-inspired portraits of screen sirens juxtaposed against slices of lemon.

Firmly planted in Fischer's distinct vernacular of the uncanny, a connection with language is created by the formation of a hand performing sign language. Influenced by Fischer's transnational upbringing, moving from Switzerland to New York at the age of twelve, the tightly formed fingers conjure a spectrum of linguistic symbolis such as 'yourself' and 'thumbs up'; the ubiquitous seal of approval. A collision of visual and verbal language, this ambiguity upsets traditional linguistic structure by revealing a multiplicity of meanings. Echoing the visual arrangement of familiar components into a maladroit juxtaposition, its elements are recognisable yet distinctively disconnected from their origins. As Fischer explains, 'art is like people; you cannot reduce them to a couple of sentences, they are much more complex, much richer' (U. Fischer, quoted in interview with M. Gioni, in B. Curiger, M. Gioni & J. Morgan (eds.), Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, exh. cat., New Museum, New York, 2009, p. 62). The artist maintains however that this aesthetic choice is a self-conscious critique of the art historical implications of his chosen means of production. The hand of the artist shining through, Fischer's artistic ethos is engrained in traditional sculptural techniques, producing refreshingly untraditional sculpture.

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