“Switzerland”

Japan’s best-known tiger

The time is 1786… On one moonless night, Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetsu painted a huge tiger along with a dragon on the sliding panels of Muryōji Temple in Kushimonto. Descending from a “lineage of eccentrics”, Rosetsu (1754-1799) had samurai ancestors. A dazzling artistic genius who had a taste for sake, he quickly became a sensation in the art circles of the imperial capital of Kyoto, as one of the major disciples of the famous painter Maruyama Ōkyo. Quite a few moons later, today it’s at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich that Nagasawa Rosetsu crops up again, at a major exhibition whose title resounds like a spell: “Ferocious Brush”… Steering this vibrant show are two curators, Khanh Trinh, curator of the Japanese and Korean art department at the Rietberg Museum, here accompanied by Matthew McKelway, professor of Japanese art history at Columbia University, New York, and also director of the Mary Griggs Burke Centre for Japanese Art. And here, you have to admit that results are on a par with Rosetsu’s talent: mind-blowing. Let’s remember that it took three years to prepare the exhibition. While Rosetsu has already been shown in Japan, in 2000, 2011 and 2017, this is the first time that a monographic show on such a scale is being dedicated to him in the West. In total, 55 pieces, paintings and drawings, some of which come from one of Kyoto’s major Zen Buddhism centres, as well as German and American museums. We find kakejikus and other naturalist makimonos, paravents featuring fantastic landscapes, the famous gigantic tiger and dragon on twelve panels, executed in Indian ikon paper… Add to this the tour-de-force identical reconstruction of the spaces of the Muryōji Temple on a 1:1 scale, and you have an incredible overview of the art of Rosetu. A Rosetsu...

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Exploring Frame, Art Basel’s newest satellite fair

Art Basel is the behemoth of the art world, with 290 galleries exhibiting 4,000 artists. Can satellite fairs benefit from the influx of collectors, channelling a different value proposition? Of the seven 2018 satellite events, some specialize in a topic (books, photography) and other seek to offer a whole new experience for collectors: such is the ambition of newcomer Frame. Defined as a collective art space, the fair relies on the collaboration of thirteen international galleries, pooling resources and expertise to offer an event catering to their business needs – and for the benefit of curious collectors. “We are currently witnessing the end of an era” advocates Bertrand Scholler, French gallerist and co-founder of Frame. “Big fairs spend most of their resources selling ever more expensive space to galleries instead of focusing on content and quality. At the same time, fairs are like drugs to galleries: they need them, even though they are destroying them. Satellite fairs are barely scrapping by, and often inconsistent.” Frame is looking to reverse the trend, one city at a time. Instead of addressing all sectors, it focuses on young galleries showing emerging artists. Frame is hardly alone in this segment however, as at least three satellite salons (Liste, Volta and Scope) make similar claims. Frame bets on several strategic choices to stand out. The 800 m2 of the fair are located in Basel Art Center, where all exhibitors will occupy similar booths, giving collectors breathing space. This “less is more” philosophy is translated in the VIP events program and solo shows offered by the organizers. Will this complementary experience attract visitors and locals? This first edition will...

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Olafur Eliasson, beyond appearances

His works can be seen in Geneva, but also Los Angeles, and in the near future, Beijing, before Munich for a summer festival, then Massachusetts. But what makes Olafur Eliasson tick? An interview in Geneva with a widely shown artist who nevertheless remains discreet.   In Geneva, Olafur Eliasson took care to greet every journalist present at the launch of his exhibition “Objets définés par l’activité” (Objects defined by activity) designed by Laurence Dreyfus, curator and adviser at the Espace Muraille. This private mansion, founded by collectors Caroline and Éric Freymond, is an ideal setting for Eliasson’s human-sized works. With restrained and sober elegance, the artist goes over the key points in his professional life: the environment, light, his projects, his proclivity for social contact…   What is the subject of your new exhibition “Objects defined by activity” at the Espace Muraille? This rather intimate exhibition presents sixteen pieces, some of which are preparatory works – and not models – for future, larger projects. Others were produced for the occasion. My works bear ties with science and allude, through geometric systems, light, movement, and flows, to our way of perceiving objects, space, our environment, and others.   Indeed, many pieces play on optical illusions and the way we see things, such as The We Mirror, Colour Window or Day and Night Lava… These works translate our skill for grasping the world, and the way our senses can help us to change it. These are, in some way, “instruments” that exacerbate our way of perceiving the world. Let’s take, for example, The We mirror. This three-dimensional dodecagon plays with its image in the mirror, superposed over its material reality… But does this reflection really express what we see? The way we see things isn’t always the one that we trust. Is...

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One hour with swiss kinetic artist Ralfonso

Since the early 20th century, kinetic artists have been exploring the possibilities of movement, introducing the element of time, the nature of vision, reflecting the importance of the machine… AMA has had an interview with Ralfonso who extend this artistic lineage and incorporate motion into his art.   What is your background? My educational background is very much on the business side. I studied Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, where I received my Bachelor’s Degree and then went onto an MBA from Wharton at University of Pennsylvania. So I have no formal art training, which might have been a blessing, as I was able to discover the magic of “art in motion” at my own pace and in my own way. How did you start to make kinetic art? My passion for this particular niche of sculptural art started very early. Even as a very young boy, I was always fascinated by mechanics and design. From this fascination, I started to design objects and sculptures that have a motion component, that then became art in motion, or kinetic art. I try to push the boundaries of kinetic art at the intersection of art, mechanics and design. Mostly I am inspired by nature, by the shape and natural interaction of all the elements. Therefore, my sculptures gently move with the wind, water, motors, or when pushed by hand, and range in size from 50cm to 15m.   What are the major difficulties of making kinetic art? Aside from all the aspects involved in designing a static sculpture, you add the dimension of movement to the art piece. This adds the 4th dimension of time and “change over time” to my designs. So now I have a much bigger tool box to work with, which include interactivity via internet, smartphone...

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A boomerang effect in Geneva

The MEG is dedicating an exhibition to the diversity and wealth of Australia’s arts. “L’Effet boomerang. Les arts aborigènes d’Australie”, thus offers insight into the colonisation of this country, from a political and aesthetic perspective. It was in 1770 that British explorer James Cook, acting as a representative of King George III, became the first Westerner to set foot on the Terra incognita, today known as Australia. Even if the land was already populated, the explorer still dubbed this territory as Terra nullius – “no man’s land”, an expression that says a great deal about the way indigenous people were long considered as a primitive society. However, the “material culture” developed by Australia’s 270 or so ethnicities over the 60,000 years in which they had inhabited the territory would whet the interest of Western travellers. Many European goods were exchanged for local fetishes, sometimes painlessly, for the Aborigines had the means to reproduce these artefacts easily. It was during this period that Australia became a “contact zone” between two worlds, two space-time bodies. In the Second Preface to Bajazet, Racine stated that “spatial distance may compensate for temporal proximity”. By discovering Australia, the West conquered the ends of the Earth, and made the acquaintance of a radical otherness, originally viewed according to an axiology riddled with prejudices pitting the primitive against the civilised or the natural against the social. What remained to be constructed were bridges between two territories but also across the centuries. Not exactly straightforward, as anthropologists Herbert Spencer and Francis James Gillen noted. For the Aborigines, the time of individuals is integrated into the notion of the Dreaming or the Dreamtime, a poetic expression coined by anthropologist Francis James Gillen to describe the pervasive mythology of humans meeting their ancestors during ritual ceremonies. From an aboriginal...

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