Egli (b.1957 - d. 2016) started producing his humanoid artworks in 1985, initially working with bronze and iron but eventually bewitched by the bright, lustrous spirit of aluminium in which to create the metaphorical man-forms he calls 'hominiums'. Each is unique - from the forge, they are machined, hammered, blasted and brushed by hand. Each has an individual appearance but lacks a character: their faces are blank, but polished to a mirror sheen to reflect the viewer.
Egli has created many public works and permanent displays in his native Switzerland: for a bank in Neuchâtel, for the council chamber in Neuchâtel, the Arts Museum in Le Locle, and in Môtiers. His work has also appeared in advertising campaigns for Swiss watches and American Express.
Egli was born in Zurich into a family of craftsmen, and though he studied precision engineering in Le Locle, the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry, he instead bought with his wife Rita a business fabricating aluminium hardware.
At a young age Egli saw a documentary about Auschwitz – images of machines pushing bodies into mass graves, of row upon row of uniform humans, dehumanised into mere shapes of people. His modern work decades later echoes this: they are presented in crowds, in regiments like soldiers, in cages, buried up to their necks in concrete, trapped in nets. The metaphor stretches beyond its genesis in the concentration camps and into the modern world, where men live trapped in the boxes of their homes, the restrictions of their jobs, lives, by social pressures. Yet the obvious care and delight with which Egli sculpts shines through the warmth of the metal of these recognisably human figures.
Egli lived and worked in a mountain village outside Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
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