( Photo Christian Schwarz )
René Kolb was born on 25th October in Arbon, Switzerland. After the divorce of his parents, he grew up in an orphanage and then in a youth home, where he spends a good time, made a professional trainign as a gardener which he concludes with great success.Following were extensive travels through Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and longer stays in southern France and Italy (exact dates unknown), where he first came in contact with paintings of old masters.
In 1964 he met the italian painter Francesco Galeotti (*1920 in San Adriano, Tuscany), who awakend his interest for painting. 1966 he settled in Zurich where he worked as a janitor for the City of Zurich.
After his retirement in October 1996, he visited nomerous art museums in Switzerland and the neighboring countries.
Exhibitions of self-taught René ( Reinhard Gallus) Kolb: September 1964 in Maradi (Tuscany, Italy), November 1968 at the Café "atelier" in Zurich, November 1975 in the "merchants" in Zurich, May 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001 in the painter's workshol of Rolf Eppler in Zurich,
He died on 28th January 2008 at his home, which also served as his studio in Zurich.
On 21st till 23rd November 2008 a memorial exhibition took place at the studio of painter Rolf Epler in Zurich.
René Kolb, a discovery
In summer 2008, some friends and collectors decided to organize an exhibition and publish a series of postcards of the paintings of René Kolb to make his work accessible to a wider audience. Hundred paintings were assembled within a short time and exhibited for a short time.
This honor came late and it is hoped that René Kolb might radiate out of his hometown as it would be appropriate to perceive him as one of the Swiss independent surrealists in line with Ernst Maass, Max von Moos, Werner Schaad and Walter Kurt Wiemken.
His Surrealism can almost objectively show everyday reality, changing very little but essential details like in his paintings "Gentleman with pearl" or "Bar d' Amigi").His Surrealism often unfolds in classical almost transparent archtitekture settings, reminiscent of Giorgio de Chirico. In this context, it can be condensed into individual propositions: to suddenly disseminated glass spheres on the ground, to surprisingly placed hand and foot fragments, an anchor in a niche or a sailship in the doorway.
René Kolb's humor can often be expressed through wrong size rations. Because rocking A huge, with fruit heavily laden bowl flows as a boat over the edge of a very undersized sofa; or an absurdly oversized carpet-beater surmounts a coastal landscape.
Kolb's humor can reach popular traces. One of his pictures shows a large glass of wine on which a rope was fixed, so that it could be pulled away abruptly: it is assumed that he alludes to his tendency to drink one over the eight. Then again, this kind of humor is something cryptic and doubtful. In the picture "envelopes" he has received a letter from his great colleague René Magritte. His response letter is already ready, the stamp (remarkably, an Italian one) also glued, but the address is still missing. Will Kolb send he letter ? If not, why not? The viewers are asked to invent the story. (Dr. Fritz Billeter)