Front view
Inv. No.S-0423
ArtistNikolaus Similacheborn 1955 in Vienna, Austria

"Charon bestellt sich einen Grappa, 1"


C-print (Lambdaprint) mounted on cardboard

Dimensions30 x 45 cm

signed, titled and dated (pencil) on mount verso


Nikolaus Similache has long been concerned in his artistic work with the forest and the tree itself. On the Canary Island of El Hierro he finds the well-known juniper forest El Sabinar.
What is special about the trees growing here are their bizarre shapes. They owe their bent and twisted posture to a permanent fall wind. Especially old specimens defy it for several hundred years. Today, many of the trees are already bent so far that the crowns touch the ground. Such trees and shrubs, whose growth form is determined by wind blowing predominantly from one cardinal direction, are also called wind fugitives.
The impressive twisted growth of the old juniper trees is considered unique in this form worldwide and makes them one of the landmarks of El Hierro. It is their overgrown stature that has saved these sabinas from the fate of their well-grown counterparts. In the past, western El Hierro was densely covered with juniper forests. Growing demand for timber, especially on the neighboring islands, and intensive clearing for livestock farming took their toll on the juniper forests before a forest fire in the early 20th century destroyed the last stands except for the trees of El Sabinar.1
The shape of the juniper stick reminded Nicholas Similache of the mythological ferryman Charon, who takes the dead across the river Acheron to the underworld in his boat and who - probably during a break - asks the waiter for a grappa with a hand gesture.
By placing the object against the sky directly on the spot on the island, in connection with the midday sunlight, its presence is particularly emphasized. At the same time, the white fair-weather cloud relates to the curved shape of the piece of wood. Similache brings the piece of wood back to his studio in Vienna and takes a second shot with artificial lighting and a black background to make the object stand out even more (see S-423).
(Christoph Fuchs)



S-0423, "Charon bestellt sich einen Grappa, 1"
Nikolaus Similache, "Charon bestellt sich einen Grappa, 1", 2009
S-0423, Front view
© Nikolaus Similache
S-0424, Nikolaus Similache, "Charon bestellt sich einen Grappa, 2", 2009
Nikolaus Similache, "Charon bestellt sich einen Grappa, 2", 2009
more infoS-0424, Front view
© Nikolaus Similache