Artist Statement and Biography

Since the 1980s Swiss artist Juel has developed a personal iconography by harvesting some of our culture's most enduring symbols and filtering them through a contemporary lens. Like an anthropologist, he recognizes power in the mundane, and as an artist, Juel cultivates meaning.

Born Bernhard Schöenberger in Davos, Switzerland, and now residing in Basel, Juel created his artistic mononym to differentiate his creative practice from his career as an economist in international business. Juel has always found time to paint, and in 2004 he became a full-time artist. After taking courses at the Kunstgewerbeschule Art Academy in St. Gallen, Switzerland, he further developed his personal idiom by traveling and living abroad.

Traveling is a major part of Juel's practice, and as he keys into each diverse artistic community a new painting suite emerges. From Dubai to East Asia, interactions between local customs and global perspectives are, for an observer like Juel, prime subjects for social critique. Since the mid-1980s Juel has made over 350 works of art-many of which are held in private collections throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Juel is in search of globally resonant icons, or potent symbols that speak to the complexities of contemporary life. He is not afraid to graft various symbols to create new pictograms. Each canvas is a staging ground for his unique brand of socially-mediated surrealism. As symbols collide, they often partake in a remarkable metamorphosis. Uncanny transformations, from death to life, from man to beast, are paused mid-change, an animation effect Juel uses to capture the fleeting world.

Juel titles each work using Egyptian hieroglyphs. The pictograms distill meaning through a shared language, tapping into the continuity of human history. The hieroglyphs are a tool to connect the vast millennia, like tracing imaginary lines with your finger between stars in the night sky. The constellations form mythologies, and these myths connect global communities....