Willi Keller

Willi Keller was born in Schaffhausen in 1944. He has worked as a freelance artist since 1972 and became a member of Visarte in the same year.
“I got to know Willi Keller as a draftsman in Zurich in the seventies. His fantastic sheets, characterized by a critical view of the world, were of a rare, model-less authenticity. What is true today was also true then: artists who do not follow trends and fashions are the exception. Willi Keller belonged and still belongs to these special cases. His self-will and independence fascinate me to this day.
The old masters (and their later admirers) worked in the glaze technique, in which layer after layer is applied transparently. Since a new layer can only be applied after the last one has dried, this procedure demands a lot of patience. But also a lot of skill, because retouching or corrective overpainting is not possible. There is hardly any room for spontaneous interventions. In Marbach, where he has lived and worked since 1982, Willi Keller turned to this extremely demanding technique.

He succeeds in being both a pragmatist and a dreamer, equally inclined to the rational and the intuitively irrational. ‘When reason sleeps, the sirens sing,’ said Max Ernst (incidentally also a lover of glaze painting). Rationality and irrationality belong together for Willi Keller like day and night. His pictorial themes fall to him. Never are they thought up or consciously worked out.”

Peter Killer, art critic, director of the Kunstmuseum Olten 1983 – 2001.