Cham, 15.06.2022

A forner toilet has become a place of culture

The "KunstKubus" in Cham is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and is exhibiting works by the Zug artist Josef Herzog.

Although the space available in the KunstKubus (art cube) is very limited, the small selection of works now gives an insight into the artistic work of Josef Herzog (1939–1998). As Hans Peter Gnos said at the vernissage on Saturday, 11 June, the Zug-based artist was one of the most important draughtsmen of Swiss art: "For decades, he explored the terrain of non-objective drawing, far from time-related currents."

The early works are associative, form-determined drawings and watercolours. Josef Herzog radically advanced the idea of reduction from the mid-70s onwards, and freed drawing from its narrative function. From then on, the line became the only pictorial means, which the artist varied in different formats.

In the Shedhalle for preparation
"The works on display all come from private collections in Zug," says Hans Peter Gnos, who set up the exhibition with curator Heiri Scherer. Because the KunstKubus is so small and because they wanted to show as much as possible, they went to the Shedhalle to prepare. "We marked the position of the wall on the floor with adhesive tape, because we wanted to know exactly how we could make the most of the space in the cube." The full range of Herzog's work can thereby now be seen.

"Public works by Herzog can be found in the former school office (Schulamt) of the city and in the Oberwil schoolhouse. A few months before his death, Herzog created 14 large wall drawings at the Adelheid Clinic, which have since been painted over." Hans Peter Gnos also mentioned that Herzog's works have been shown in art houses and museums in the region, and some of his works are in public collections.

Project was not without controversy
The beginnings were also commemorated at the vernissage. Thomas Gretener, the secretary of the civil community (Burgerschreiber), still remembers well what the small house on the Zugerstrasse used to look like. "It was completely overgrown." He has to laugh when he thinks of the lively discourse in the civil community meeting on 13 December 2011, before the loan of CHF 69,000 for a micro-art house in the disused 13-square-metre toilet facility was approved.

The "KunstKubus" Cham celebrates its 10th anniversary. In the picture, curator Heiri Scherer and president Barbara Stäheli.        Photo: Matthias Jurt, Cham

Heiri Scherer was also there at the time, and pointed out the variety of possibilities for the new location for art and culture. The community financed the conversion, and the municipality has since continued to make the building available and has paid for the maintenance, with the operation being organised by the Kunstkubus association.

Heiri Scherer is still working tirelessly there as a curator: "Five to six exhibitions take place here every year, and there have now been more than 50." As highlights, he mentions the first exhibition after the opening on 15 June 2012, when traffic signs became art objects, as well as the presentation of the Swiss Guard painter Robert Schiess.

Barbara Stäheli has been active as president of the Kunstkubus association for about six years. She is the woman for everything, she says with a smile. "We never have too much money, but it always works out somehow."

She describes the cultural project as very exciting, also thanks to the innovative curator, and the whole committee is helping. Looking back over the past ten years, she says: "The art cube has become an interesting, regional place for art and culture that attracts different people. Today, it’s accepted by the people of Cham and is appreciated."

There are, of course, sometimes discussions about who should exhibit, but the artistic quality plays a role. Barbara Stäheli finds that it is still important to point out the Cham Biennials, which take place every two years: "They are always visited by a lot of people."

The exhibition of the works of Josef Herzog at the Kunstkubus Cham runs until 2 July. On this day, the anniversary aperitif will take place from 1 to 4 p.m.
The Kunstkubus is open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Works by Josef Herzog can also be seen in a double exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern up to 19 June.