Artist: Jean-Frédéric Schnyder
Venue: Swiss Institute, New York
Date: November 23, 2011 – February 26, 2012
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau and Swiss Confederation, Federal Office of Culture, Bern.
Swiss Institute is proud to present a solo show of Jean-Frédéric Schnyder (born 1945, lives in Zug, Switzerland) in the United States. Despite his long and successful career the Swiss artist has remained relatively unknown beyond European borders. At Swiss Institute Jean-Frédéric Schnyder will exhibit a series of small format landscape paintings LANDSCHAFT I-XXXV (1990/91) as well as the recent video installation Corso Schnapsparade (2009).
In 1969 legendary Swiss curator Harald Szeemann invited the 24-year old artist to participate in the seminal group show When Attitudes Become Form at Kunsthalle Bern. Three years later Szeemann also included him in Documenta 5 in Kassel. During this time Schnyder shifted from object-based art to painting. As a self-taught artist he always envied painters for having a proper job. “Coming home with rosy cheeks after painting en plein air makes you entirely happy,” states the artist with a chuckle. But he also appreciates painting as a form of expression, which for many people is a synonym for art.
For the series Wanderung (Hike) exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1993, he hiked along the entire Swiss national highway from East to West and painted 119 vistas of the traffic, portraying Switzerland in a previously unseen manner. Schnyder knows how to challenge painting through a conceptual approach and with ironic distance. He deliberately undermines traditional positions with a tongue in cheek attitude.
At Swiss Institute, Schnyder exhibits Landschaft (Landscape) I-XXXV (1990/91) a typical example of his vision of painting. After finding a subject, he usually examines every possibility in his imagination without doing any preparatory drawings. The common denominator of this series is the archetypal small house treated in 35 small-sized oil paintings. From the hut of Hansel and Gretel to suburban architecture with a Swastika-lit sky, the modality of a small world is investigated by painting. “I do not care which associations my paintings provoke. Swastika, cruxifix and sugar cubes are just motives which are interesting to paint. To apply color—this is what painting is about, right?—is for me the common thread.” Schnyder’s manifesto is purely nonchalant, a balancing act between humor, kitsch and a persiflage about Western art.
Also on view is Corso Schnapsparade (Liquor Parade, 2009) an animated film featuring a highly eccentric procession. Small wooden horses pull trailers loaded with miniature versions of Swiss liquor bottles. The horses and trailers are cut in wood by Schnyder himself with painstaking craftmanship. The scenery has a childish or almost naïve element that is instantly contradicted by the presence of hard liquor. The soundtrack from the well-known film Sissy further enhances the grandeur of the parade. Schnyder’s Liquor Parade at once celebrates and ridicules festival culture and its rituals.
The exhibition has been made possible with public funds from Kanton Zug.