Skip to content
David Schutter

During the Zurich Art Weekend, the galleries and numerous institutions will keep visitors and art lovers busy for the sixth time with over eighty exhibitions, theater events, panels, performances, artist and curator talks. Before they get into the right mood and almost seamlessly get involved in the overwhelming impact of the great Art Basel.

The top dogs rely on tried and tested and high-priced products. The Hauser & Wirth gallery with works by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Louise Bourgeois from the years between 1945 and 1959, with current monstrosities by Cindy Sherman and a 33-part series of Roni Horn's collaged drawings. The Eva Presenhuber gallery brings Doug Aitken, but for the first time also the Afro-American shooting star Tschabalala Self. Her large-format female figures, staged self-confidently and ironically with color and fabric, stand out directly and convincingly from the mediocrity of some black artists, which is currently rampant in terms of the spirit of the times.

Gmurzynska reflects on a former Pop Art pioneer. Marjorie Strider (1931-2014), a woman who initially asserted herself well in the testosterone- and generally driven peer group of Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, LeWitt, discovered the possibilities of polyurethane foam for her "girlies" - subtly sarcastic quotations from contemporary films to make curvy reliefs in ideal shapes and to mock the male gaze, which was unchallenged at the time.

"It's amazing that so little is known about her work..." is a statement that has now become a platitude. She is also heard in relation to Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944), an Austrian painter, designer, set designer and interior decorator whose work is now being exhibited in the Graphic Collection of ETH Zurich for the first time in Switzerland. The Jewish artist fled from Vienna to Prague in 1936 and was taken to Theresienstadt in 1942. There she organized what one would call therapeutic art classes for the children today. In 1944 she was murdered in Auschwitz.

Events organized by public institutions that are increasingly integrated into the weekend this year include a series of performances by Kiev artists such as Alevtina Kakhidze, Uta Bekaia and others; plus the moving performance of Stas Zhyrkov's "Antigone in Bucha" based on a text by Pavlo Arie. The Ukrainian director Stas Zhyrkov was on 24.2. Fled from Kyiv with his family in 2022 and was received as a "Related Artist at Risk" by the Zurich Schauspielhaus, which is thus continuing its tradition as an exile theater.

The spaces of the galleries are clustered in Zurich's Löwenbräu area. With young talents like Struan Teague from Scotland. His minimalistic abstractions with small amounts of color are reminiscent of sparkling melodies or misty landscapes that do not reveal their secrets (Annex, 1,200 to 10,000 Swiss francs).

At Lullin + Ferrari, an established gallery that now resolutely stays away from trade fairs, the Polish artist Slawomir Elsner, who lives in Berlin, fascinates with his meticulous colored pencil drawings. He adapts old master motifs, such as Fragonard's "Stolen Kisses" in the original size, but limits himself to the colors red, green and violet. Blue and yellow do not exist: the picture hangs in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, the national colors of Ukraine have been erased. Fragonard's "The Swing" from the Wallace Collection in London, on the other hand, is reproduced in all color nuances in Elsner's style, both familiarly and disturbingly out of focus (5,000 to 20,000 francs, almost all sold).

A second hotspot is the area around Rämistraße. Here, Michael Haas shows Michael Müller's gestural, giant formats behind painted glass (40,000 to 220,000 francs). In his latest works for Mai 36, Magnus Plessen also deals with fluidity and wave form, this time with details of bodybuilders' poses interwoven into an abstract-figurative amalgam.

After so much conceptual, perhaps only strategic complexity, Neil Jenney's Bad Paintings at Tobias Müller delight (and irritate). In the late 1960s, Jenney became quite unnerved by the either minimalist or photorealistic work of his New York colleagues. He wanted to tell stories or set them in motion in the viewer, evil, maliciously funny stories. To this day, the now 78-year-old manages to do this in a downright liberating way with his Bad Paintings.

Idris Khan has developed a convincing concept that is both aesthetically and rigorously strict in terms of content for his 21-part work “After the Storm”, which is shown by Fabian Lang. He has separated the palette of William Turner's iconic painting "Snowstorm, Avalanche and Thunderstorm" and abstracted it, so to speak, broken it down. The menacing turbulence of the original has given way to a series of melodic vibrations. Annie Morris, his wife, is known for her spherical columns of foamed plastic covered with a brightly colored pigment skin, lively monuments of equilibrism with reference to the ephemerality and instability of human existence.

Fabric collages and embroidery by MaƂgorzata Mirga-Tas were exhibited in the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale last year with great resonance. The Roma activist, who has now calmed down, lives and works in a Roma settlement in Czarna Góra, a Polish ski and climatic health resort in the Tatra mountains, where the tableaus with women in festive garb, doing everyday tasks or with the family, based on her designs in community work be put together to form huge panels of fabric. The artist, who trained at the Kraków Academy, impressively refuses a hierarchy between the creations of high art and everyday art (10,000 to 60,000 francs).

The Californian artist Austin Eddy dedicates himself to human existence and its indissoluble dichotomy, who has meanwhile left non-representational painting in favor of figurative painting. He works almost obsessively with the bird as a metaphor for boundless freedom, for weightlessness, privileges that he also uses for his painterly experiments ($5,500 to $39,000 for works on paper, paintings and sculptures). With him, the Livie Gallery presents an artist who, although already equipped with a respectable exhibition list, is still being traded in an expandable price range – and hit the bull's eye right away, all works have been sold.

There were many on their feet on this sun-drenched weekend. Some positions demanded quite a bit of philosophical concentration (the usual, attractive at first glance was far more present). This certainly included David Schutter's "Night Work" series, which refers to Adolf von Menzel's nocturnal "studio wall". He approaches a picture with countless sketches, then lays layer after layer of paint on the canvas, which he covers in grey-black. In the end it's all about texture, linkage and gesture, the refusal to reveal, to report, is then complete and closed. The ex-Documenta boss Adam Szymcyk introduces Schutters to his somewhat cryptic Zurich Verein by Association.

Finally, two superlatives: The largest, the most oversized work of the weekend is Urs Fischer's aluminum/steel sculpture (5.2 by 4.5 by 7.6 meters) in the machine hall of the SBB workshop, where Acrush presents itself as a metal and set up a casting workshop a few years ago and manufactures according to designs by internationally renowned artists.

Irit Sommer has the most enchanting exhibition space high above the shore of Lake Zurich in a rather tiny penthouse in the center of the city. There, in a white ambience, there are Gregor Hildebrandt's pillars made of records shaped like shells, a specially made bar made of hundreds of music cassettes - and a magnificent view (30,000 to 120,000 francs).

Written by Annegret Erhard

Back To Top