Pascale Favre, Laetitia Salamin, François Schaer / Reliefs

28th February - 12th April 2015

Laetitia Salamin lives in and explores the mountains and draws inspiration for all her paintings from them.  From an Alpine panorama to the details of lichen, all the elements of this environment are represented in her drawings and paintings.  The works are sober and stripped down, with thin colours and simple essential shapes.  We will not see familiar landscapes in this artist’s work, but the transformation of the particular into the universal.  Starting with observations during walks, she works with her paintbrushes until only a trace, a silhouette, a surface or a colour remain.  Pure painting in other words.  With the same ease, she captures the immensity of a mountain lake within the confines of the canvas without losing the idea of the majesty of the absolute.  She immerses herself in the tiniest detail of a rock as we might plunge into cosmic depths.  The artist’s fascination with these sumptuous landscapes and the beauty of their rocks is palpable in the smooth spread of pale tones which seem to slip over each other and capture the changing air of the mountains.

Initially conceived as a documentary project, François Schaer’s series “Jours blancs” evolved towards a graphic register which sublimates the landscape and strengthens the intensity of his portraits.  The photographer plays with the mist which blurs contours, hollows out the few built structures and seems to suspend skiers in an undefined space.  The skiers become abstract shapes set against the immaculate background.  Looking closer, however, the images slowly reveal subtle nuances which follow and emphasise the curves of the ski pistes.  The astonishing variety of white that François Schaer captures reminds us of the 20 or so words used by the Inuit to describe this colour.  Through its predominance, snow is no longer part of the decor but is the main subject of the series.  Through its rich tones, the photograph can look like a painted patina, even an engraving when the lines of the ski lifts appear like the marks of a dry point.  Similar to German romantic painting, the mountain landscape is magnified, while the composition can sometimes approach avant-garde abstraction when splashes of vivid colour interrupt the continuity of the white.  The series is punctuated with portraits of people with an intense gaze, fragments of life which show the human relations which François Schaer weaves into his images.

Whether built or natural, landscape runs through all the work of Pascale Favre as a line drawn in ink or applied directly on the wall in adhesive strips.  Through their shapes, similar to a reworking of reality, these installations place a linear mental landscape of memory, experience and thought in space.  Waste objects such as cardboard boxes, photos, postcards and posters are placed very precisely on black lines – a reflection of the artist’s initial training as an interior architect – like occasional signposts which draw the attention in order to decipher the whole.  These tourist images with an overblown aesthetic, showing mountains reflected in lakes, are the starting point for an exploration of the theme of doubling into two which the artist shows in the spare structure of her ink drawings.  In regular points, they transform the horizon into a symmetrical axis which tears the mountain into two as if revealing its heart.  Volume is recreated artificially separately with the poster of an undulating Alpine panorama on the wall.  The whole thus becomes an enormous network of links spread over the walls and reorganised in a stylised depiction of mountains which can be read as interlacing stories. / N. Kunz

 

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