Istituto Svizzero presents “Boards”, Urban Zellweger's first solo show in Italy. The young Swiss artist presents a series of new works for the occasion. In the spaces of Milan he re-examines his current research, including, among other works, the most recent small paintings on wood.
The title of the exhibition evokes a certain sense of humor, asking the question: can an image be defined by its support? The iconographies of the new series emerge from different places. They are taken from children's books such as the "Pixi-Books", copied realistically from reptile documentaries or are imagined figures, joined together.
A Komodo dragon wraps up a red carpet, stops, turns around and sees something that isn't pictured. Two cats smoke cigarettes hidden behind a large wall; the smoke produced is so abundant that it turns into fog and blends into the white background. A human figure plays the piano as if she were alone with her instrument; they are bound together by similar colors: safe and sound. Unlike the surrealists who have maintained a close bond with painting, Urban Zellweger has a freer approach to his medium. The figures are recurring, his sets unfold, perspectives are constructed, but his painting maintains its own space.
If his formats are more usual than those produced in an atelier, his technique is dry, thus revealing the signs. Oil painting allows him to create “sticky” white backgrounds from which the figures emerge, in the same way that dreams arise from an indistinct fog. The rigid wooden surfaces allow him to cut out an iconography more quickly and clearly. The colors regain their medieval two-dimensionality.
Two sculptures produced by Bernhard Hegglin play with the idea that the support is a problem for the image. The drawings, hanging from the branches of what looks like a metallic tree, are both originals and torn pages from his recently published book Grass Glue (2018) and earlier Snow (2016).