Thursday 20. October to Thursday 10. November 2016

What I See

Christof Vetsch

Opening Reception / Vernissage: Thursday 20. October 2016 18:00

‘What I See’ is a show of approximately 40 recent photographs. These prints make everyday objects the subjects of intimate and delightful dramas.


Vetsch, who works with vintage design furniture, has developed an artistic practice over the past few years, though it would be wrong to suggest that he is an outsider artist. On the contrary, he has been at the cutting edge of culture throughout his life, from his studies at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, where he completed a foundation year and a further year in the Grafikfachklasse, to intensive months in 1980 studying with one of the pioneers of post-modern dance and movement, Anna Halprin, at the Tamalpa Dancers’ Workshop. Until now, his role has been as a cultural mediator, as he was, for example, when he operated the record shop Halb Tanz in Zurich, which later became Vibes, and then mutated into a furniture store.


As Vetsch sorts and searches for furniture, finding noteworthy art and design objects in unexpected places, he is driven by his desire to make art; inspiring things and settings the artist encounters become momentary actors and stages. Using a variety of techniques, including assemblage, collage and image manipulation, he creates abstract, still life and narrative images. In these he finds the life inherent in objects, steering clear of hackneyed clichés by leaving scenes unresolved, allowing the viewer to interpret what they see. The work Bang Bang, for example, consists of three elements: a lavender-coloured duvet; a Styrofoam off-cut; and a child’s toy, all assembled on a background of granite paving. The arrangement is simple, and yet, spurred on by the title, the objects come alive and a cartoon shot is fired. The construction of The Wounded Fish is more deliberate, where a sharpening stone is suspended by a piece of fine lace; there is a moving contrast between the delicacy of the lace and the hard stone. Here, too, a transformation occurs, making the stone a body suspended, the lace a swing or a noose. Vetsch encountered the scene we see in Table Dance during the renovation of a hairdressing salon: on a dirty resin board stands a comical sculpture, like a rabbit or a gnome, inadvertently formed by a painter who kept his brush damp using a plastic bag and a pair of rubber gloves. Vetsch captures this accidental figure on its ‘table’, a framed collection of butterflies nearby and the black backdrop with its signs of wear, and adds another element with his title. Now a tableau emerges that speaks of human lust and aversion, the passing of time, mortality and decay.


Vetsch may be a young artist, but he is an experienced observer. He sees and acknowledges yin and yang relationships between binary positions, such as darkness and light, force and gentleness, or strength and fragility. The resulting formal studies could be likened to Hans Arps abstractions, while his atmospheric recording of everyday life find unexpected beauty and drama have much in common with Luigi Ghirri’s photographs. His works reveal both maturity and new-found joy in unfettered experimentation, the ability to embrace both humour and tragedy.