A closer look at two leading Swiss artists

With a significant portion of the global Arts community is in Basel this week, ‘tis the perfect time to pay homage to some of Switzerland‘s finest artists.

Aside from crystal clear lakes, soaring mountains, picturesque towns, a name that has become synonymous with neutrality, and for being the place to be in the art world this week, Switzerland has also delivered many artistic greats.

A few of which being; Le CorbusierAlberto GiacomettiSylvie Fleury and Urs Fischer. Today we will be focusing on two of its finest creatives who happen to be born less than two years and 100 kilometres from each other; Ugo Rondinone and Pipilotti Rist.

Ugo Rondinone
Ranked 92 Globally 6 in Switzerland
Lives and works: New York City
Over 30-year career

Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains, 2016, ©Gianfranco Gorgoni. Courtesy of art production fund and Nevada Museum of Art.

Rondinone is a multidisciplinary artist who works with sculpture, photography, painting, drawing, poetry and video. He is perhaps most widely known for his vibrant painted rock sculptures from his 2016 installation in the Nevada Desert, Seven Magic Mountains. There are several recurring motifs in his work, from transfixing gigantic stone sentries to the use of a rainbow- in windows, on walls, in paintings and in brightly lit phrases, to gnarled trees painted white, to clowns.

His enduring fascination with clowns led to his installation Vocabulary Of Solitude (of which there are many of a similar nature, but within different spaces, and therefore with different titles) where 45 hyper-realistic clowns cast from male and female models are installed in a gallery, reclining upon the ground. The clowns are captivating – the recognisable figure becomes transformed in its restful stillness. Yet another way his recurring exploration of the natural (resting person) and the artificial (painted clown) can be seen.

“… between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now.”

Rondinone adds poetry to the everyday, should you seek that out, there are a couple of his exhibitions on at the moment, but, we’ll mention the one that is in Switzerland:
Waterfalls & Clouds
at Galerie Eva PresenhuberZurich,
September 3 – October 16 2021.

Pipilotti Rist
Ranked 144 Globally 9 in SwitzerlandLives and works: Zurich
Over 30-year career

Pipilotti Rist, Ever Is Over All, 1997, Two-channel video (color, sound) 4:07 min.

A pioneer in video art Rist creates colourful kaleidoscopic immersive parallel worlds, both in her videos and doubly so in her installations. She is perhaps best known for Ever Is Over All, which was shown at the 1997 Venice Biennale and shot her into international fame. It has since received renewed recognition after being used as inspiration for Beyoncé’s 2016 “Hold up” music video. The mesmerising piece features a young Dorothy-Esque woman happily strolling down a street smashing car windows with a metal poker painted to appear like a tall flower, of which overlapping close-up footage is shown alongside. The video is not aggressive, but joyful – dreamy, cathartic, hypnotic.

Rist’s experimental video art and immersive expansive multimedia installations explore and celebrate the feminist and the feminine, colour, joy, body, nature, and most of all, pleasure.

“I don’t make any separation between our body and nature…”

To get the full experience of Rist’s sensual sumptuous vivid world currently, you’ll need to head to LA where the first West Coast survey of her over 30 years of work is on display:
Pipilotti Rist: Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor
at Geffen Contemporary, MOCAin Los Angeles,
Sept 12, 2021 – Jun 6, 2022.

The similarities between these talented artists do not with their age and birth locations. They also share comparable career trajectories, found international recognition in the ’90s, represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale, develop immersive, transformative, often meditative spaces where the viewers become part of the installation and both create work that celebrates colour, nature and life.

But perhaps the biggest compliment of all; they have each realised works that children adore too. (That’s when you know it’s really alive).

We would not be at all surprised if growing up in the spectacular mountainous landscapes of Switzerland had something to do with their deep love of nature, and their propensity for the expansive.

Let’s make history happen.

The Artfacts Team