Bern's fine arts museum has begun 2002 with an exhibit of works by Rudolf Mumprecht. If you've never heard of him that doesn't worry the curator.
"Mumprecht is largely unknown in the English-speaking world," concedes Marc Fehlmann, "but his work is greatly admired in Bern as well as in Canton Ticino, where he has also lived.
"We can't just go for international exhibitions imported from abroad, because it's also our duty to show artists from near to home and present their works to the public."
So immediately after a temporary Picasso exhibition, the museum which currently holds the biggest public collection of works by Paul Klee will literally be putting some emphasis on local colour until April 7.
But the exhibition, consisting mainly of paintings and drawings donated in 1984 by the 84-year-old artist, to the Bern Burgerbibliothek - the Burgher's Library -- will almost certainly widen the reputation of Mumprecht once non-Swiss visitors get a chance to see it.
For a start, the abstract forms he has created are often rich in colour and always pleasing to the eye, their content enhanced by the letters, words and signs which are the artist's trademark. Some pictures are black and white drawings while other, earlier works bear witness to Mumprecht's figurative draughtsmanship.
The letters, words and signs sometimes reveal a highly developed sense of humour, which although not always obvious to the casual onlooker, at least compel him or her to try to read into them some sort of hidden meaning. It's like observing the work of the artist as a poet or vice-versa - or more likely, both.
To sum up, the name Rudolf Mumprecht may not exactly ring a bell in the ears of people outside Switzerland. But his works will almost certainly strike their eyes should they be given an opportunity to see the paintings and drawings he has created.
by Richard Dawson
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