Galleria Gottardo Foundation, Lugano, Switzerland
07. 01. - 28. 02. 2004
Marc-Antoine Fehr, Heiner Kielholz, Leiko Ikemura, Mario Merz, Peter Roesch, Franz Wanner
Selections from the Banca del Gottardo, Lugano
The Galleria Gottardo -- the Banca del Gottardo’s foundation for culture -- opens its 2004
exhibition season with a group showing of a selection of works from its “Swiss Art 1960-1990
The Young Generation” collection.
The Bank’s collection highlights the trends in Swiss art between 1960 and 1990. The chief
features of the collection are the diversity of themes it includes and the innovative ground it
covers. By focusing on diversity and innovation, the collection has put together a panorama
of contemporary art that places particular attention on the creation of a multiform visual
The exhibition features six large-canvas works that were chosen, apart from their size, for the
quality of their creative expression and the cultural values they represent. The title of the
exhibition alludes to the fact that the show offers observers a panoramic view of the work,
one that goes beyond a simple frontal view, encouraging the viewer to move around the work
to develop a dynamic relationship with it.
The exhibition features important names in contemporary art that have also garnered
international attention, artists such as Mario Merz and Leiko Ikemura, as well as Heiner
Kielholz, Peter Roesch, Franz Wanner and Marc-Antoine Fehr.
The artists shown remain in close contact with the traditions of painting through their
techniques and distinct styles. The six paintings in the show cover the period from 1968 to
1986. During this time, each artist, in his own unique pictorial form, sought out the art of
painting in its original form using very different means and intellectual approaches.
The exhibition provides the public with the opportunity to see works that are usually shown on
the Bank’s premises. All the artists represented in the Banca del Gottardo’s collection
demonstrate, each in their own way, their connection to Swiss culture and landscape.
The “Swiss Art 1960-1990 The Young Generation” collection of the Banca del Gottardo
includes a detailed catalogue of the same title, published in 1992 (Swiss Institute for Art
Galleria Gottardo, a cultural foundation of the Banca del Gottardo
Banca del Gottardo, Institutional Patron of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Galleria Gottardo uessearte
Viale Stefano Franscini 12 Via Natta 22
6900 Lugano, Switzerland I - 22100 Como
Tel. +41 91 808 1988 Tel. +39 031 269 393
Fax +41 91 808 2447 Fax +39 031 267 265
The work by Heiner Kielholz (Rheinfelden AG, 1942) Untitled (oil on canvas) is from 1968, a
very fertile period for Swiss art. Kielholz joined the Ateliergemeinschaft Ziegelrain in Aarau
(1967-1972), which was a time of experimentation in which he took up the challenge of space
both in the real and the pictorial sense. His research into the receptive capacity of the viewer
led him to create large paintings in black and white. On a white background Kielholz painted
vertical and horizontal lines of black dots. The irregular placement of the dots causes the
pattern to fluctuate and become visually alive, creating a play on depth. Kielholz has adopted
his style and content over time, and has lately returned to mostly figurative painting. He lives
and works in Poschiavo.
Le Tazze di Torino (The Cups of Turin), acrylic on jute with a lighting installation, dated
1979, is by the Italian artist Mario Merz (Milan, 1925 - 2003). During the years of Arte Povera
in 1967, Merz made a name for himself in Turin. All his works feature the attempt to renounce
the “emptiness of modern technological man with a non-emptiness reaching far back into the
past.” The cups depicted are humble, everyday objects. They emphasise the fact that they
belong to human nature and become a live presence when “illuminated” by a neon beam,
which makes the contrast even more dramatic and harsh. Merz’s quest for expression finds
its roots in the Fibonacci number series (each successive number in the series is the sum of
the two previous numbers). The number becomes the mathematical frame of a universal
codification system within which the work develops, symbolizing the flow of existence.
The painting Die Waage (The Scale, 1982, acrylic on canvas) by Peter Roesch (Aarau AG,
1950) is part of a series of works dedicated to the theme of equilibrium (Das Gleichgewicht)
that were shown at the Galerie Jörg Stummer in Zurich in 1982. The subject of equilibrium
returns, in different combinations, in later works as well (Das Gleichgewicht, 1990). The
painting depicts human figures streamlined to their formal essence. They are the protagonists
in an animated dialogue of gestures rich in symbolic significance and multiple meaning, as in
the relationship between the sexes or the difficulty that human beings have in communicating.
The scene is enriched with mythological quotations and silhouetted against a uniform and dark
background, with the end result a sense of solitude and desperation.
Franz Wanner (Wauwil LU, 1956), after completing an apprenticeship in sculpture, took up
painting at the beginning of the 1980s, working chiefly with large canvases. The painting for this
exhibition, Senza titolo (Untitled, 1985, acrylic on canvas), initiates a dialogue with the still life
genre, bringing it to a new and modern place. The chromatic depth of the background brings
out the clarity in the object, revealing its ambivalent functionality: container and content allow
the viewer to see in this painting reciprocal contradictions and absolute harmony. Within the
huge dimensions of the painting, the subject seems to be the conduit for a wider reflection on
the roots of artistic labour.
The Japanese artist Leiko Ikemura (Tsu Mie, Japan, 1951), has been living in Switzerland
since 1979 and belongs to the generation of neo-expressionist artists. Referring back to the
historical avant-garde of German Expressionism and Fauvism, she brings back the violent
deformation of the image through the use of the chromatic symbol or contrast. The work for
this exhibition, Mamma Buddha from 1986 (oil on canvas) is an example of her style. In the
painting, Ikemura portrays the dichotomy between two religious truths by depicting two
figures, the Buddha and the Virgin Mary, reaching out towards each other in a coming
together of consciousness. Leiko Ikemura has been a professor at the Universität der Künste in
Berlin since 1991.
Das Bad II (1986) by Marc-Antoine Fehr (Zurich, 1953) is an oil on paper work that recalls the
frescos of Pompeii in a kind of intellectual echo. The painting is worlds away from the
contemporary panorama of the 1980s. Together with Fehr’s variations on this same theme, the
painting forms a single series even within his own artistic output. The subject seems to allude
to a ritual type of bathing, implied by a complex figurative structure and a strong chromatic
impact, within which the woman with raised arms is depicted at rest. The recurring themes
in Fehr's works are within a surrealist- fantastic current. Nature has a primary place, as it is
the source of inspiration and iconic value.
Exhibition dates 7 January - 28 February 2004