Early Artworks and Expressionism

1963 - 1971

After his years of training, Jean Hirtzel travels extensively in response to what he calls his “need to wander”. He crosses the Balkans and, in particular, the territory that was then still Yugoslavia. He also works in Munich and London on his expressionist pieces.

Technique alone is not enough to make an artwork. To nurture his research, Jean Hirtzel accumulates human experiences and encounters the unexpected during his many travels. Confronting everyday life is necessary in his opinion, because uncertainty and risk demand unforeseen solutions in life as well as in art. In Yugoslavia, he meets a group of Gypsies who he visits repeatedly over the years and with whom he lives temporarily.

He draws, takes notes, and creates in his studio portraits of insects, vivariums, people in bars, tormented couples or figures who are often trapped in enclosed spaces. His attraction to expressionism pushes him to new destinations. In Munich, he is fascinated by old German masters and the expressionists of the 20th century. In London, he meets Francis Bacon. It is during this period that he dedicates himself to new themes such as the human head and self-portraits; these themes constantly reoccur throughout his period in different forms.