Harald Naegeli, the pioneer of graffiti art and the famous "Sprayer of Zurich", turns 80 and plays with the idea of leaving Germany.
He wanted to return to his native city Zurich. "My lifetime and my time here has expired," said Naegeli the German Press Agency in Dusseldorf. But he has postponed his relocation date again and again.
Naegeli moved to Dusseldorf thirty-five years ago, after being jailed in Switzerland for half a year for his art of spraying. Although he was not convicted by the judiciary in Düsseldorf this spring, he was ordered to pay compensation for his graffiti art, which had outraged him.
But that's why he did not want to leave Germany: "I go without rancor. I'm walking because of myself. I lived in Zurich for 40 years. This ambiance is significant for me to finish in life. I want to go back to my origin, "says Naegeli. Today he is 80 years old.
His spray actions in the 1980s made him known as the "Sprayer of Zurich". With his black stick figures he turned against the concreting of the cities. Swiss citizens and their judiciary persecuted him stubbornly.
«I was wanted with an international arrest warrant. The charge was property damage. But I did not destroy a wall or render it useless. "Naegeli escaped the Swiss prison for a while by escaping. He came to Germany, found contact with art star Joseph Beuys and was honored as an artist. He was already recognized by the art world long ago, art historian Siegfried Gohr had already attested to him years ago.
But then he was arrested in 1983 at the German-Danish border because of the international arrest warrant. Beuys and former Chancellor Willy Brandt protested in vain against his imprisonment.
After his release, he moved to Dusseldorf. The accusation of damage to property did not reach for its form of art in Germany for a long time. But meanwhile the German laws are tightened: Now also the external change of a thing counts as damage.
In the meantime, he no longer breaks open at nightly spraying actions, but he lacks the strength to do so, the artist claims and laughs: "I hung the spray can from my nails."
For years, he has been working on his original cloud, a compilation of around 500 sheets: a "meditation on the dot", as he puts it, consisting of millions of small particles.
His street art gradually disappears, becomes overpainted and fades everywhere where it is not protected and conserved. By contrast, the primeval cloud is his drawing heritage. It deliberately recalls Leonardo da Vinci's apocalyptic image cycle. "Da Vinci thought the earth would explode or drown in the deluge. I have a harmony. My primeval cloud is a counterpoint to Da Vinci's end of the world. "
Naegeli comes from a Swiss medical dynasty. He was able to make a living out of his fortune: "I was fortunate that I did not have to market myself in the art market. Instead, I gave away my art a thousandfold in public space. "This, of course, is a challenge for society and a critique of capitalism. "I am actually the rebirth of a rock artist. There was no capitalism or art marketing 30,000 years ago, "he says.
In the meantime, he looks back conciliatory on his numerous frictions with the state: "Without these opposing forces, I would not be who I am today. Without police, there would be no sprayer from Zurich. »
Museums in Düsseldorf and Berlin have recently accepted parts of his work as donations. For a long time, his spray factory "Undine" has been under protection in Zurich, and his "Tödlein" at the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne. In Zurich, the "Sprayer of Zurich" is currently working on a legal work of art: his "Totentanz" in Zurich's Grossmünster.