Silvia Bächli y Eric Hattan. To have a shelf life, 2017


Born in 1956 in the Swiss town of Baden and resident in Basel, Silvia Bächli has focused her practices on drawing, highlighting both her own material conditions and her expressive possibilities; He uses sheets of white paper of different sizes, qualities and tones, and uses Indian ink, charcoal, gouache or pastels to develop fragments or impressions representative of a double reality: that of his own body in movement, which is present in each of them. your pieces, and that of ephemeral emotions or sensations that you want to capture.

His compositions have been compared to frames from a film, with shots of bodies and objects or their details, of landscapes, gestures, structures and processes in which we can understand that narratives are condensed without a defined beginning or end; also with essays that propose approximations, necessarily incomplete and partial, to the intangible. These drawings are not the only support he has used, but they are the fundamental one, for a biographical reason: his father worked in a printing press and Bächli had easy access to various types of paper, a circumstance that ended up being decisive in his career.

Stains and strokes of gouache, made with a brush or wide brush, offer apparently summary signs in their images, sometimes in black and sometimes in color, although if there is a palette that we can associate with the Swiss one, it is that of earth tones, since it is rare. once he has moved away from her. And although some of them, the earliest, show human figures or parts of their bodies, in most cases they enter the realm of abstraction and also improvisation: she has stated in recent exhibitions that, for her, drawing is to undertake the search for the right tone, for a correct formulation, which I don't know beforehand exactly what it will be like; I would describe it as my “do”. Drawing is observing, remembering, touching, playing, repeating, inventing, provoking, coloring, etc.

A selection of his latest works, in dialogue with some previous ones, can now be seen at the Botín Center in Santander within the framework of the exhibition “Score”, which has been curated by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, director of exhibitions and the collection of this space, and which proposes once again to interpret his creations as a record of bodily gesture and internal sensations in the form of (plastically) linear narration: The lines tell stories. What do these lines do? Where does a line begin? Does it play another line? Words appear, which ones come to the tongue?

The works that are part of the exhibition, and hence its title, are structured forming rhythmic groups due to their assembly: they have been arranged at different heights and intervals and, in their accumulation, they can give rise to different meanings (narrative, musical ); This accumulation is also linked to Bächli's work processes, which he draws on sheets that he takes from a pile, one after another, and then places them forming constellations on the wall of his workshop. Once they are hung that way, he can rearrange them or reject some of the papers.

Silvia Bächli.  Music sheet.  Botín Center, Santander

Due to the temporal arc of the works on display, “Score” allows us to analyze the evolution of this author from her first representations of bodies in black and white or of women in a concentrated attitude to her latest expansive surfaces, now in color, or her networks in burnt orange; The presentation does not lack the installation that could be seen in the Swiss Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2009, you give, nor another mural installation that he has carried out together with Eric Hattan, a Swiss conceptual artist who has worked above all in the fields of video and performance, also in the installation itself. Simple, everyday gestures remain in these elevated projects: the constant line and variable brushstrokes suggest calm or movement, breathing or rest; they point to textures or, especially in this case, are integrated into potential melodies.

The visitor is welcomed by a door frame crowned by fields of color, pieces in vertical or horizontal format and with strong colors accompanied by those initial nervous figures and fragments dating from the eighties. we will contemplate Tische (Tables) (1983-2017), a set of figurative and abstract drawings that give rise to various “collections” on display tables; Compared to his later mural installations, marked by rhythmic structures of musical evocation, these groupings of works share formal and technical developments or themes in a non-linear way, so it will be the viewer who must find sequences in them, from his personal perceptual experience of I disperse it.

Silvia Bächli.  Untitled, 1983 and 1985.

One room is dedicated to his grids; among them has arrived in Santander Rotes Zimmer (2011), a series of drawings in acrylic and gouache in which the artist experimented with the many possible interpretations of a basic grid, one of the structures that has borne the greatest fruit in the art of the last century. Specifically, in these drawings she modified her brushstroke by moving her hand from left to right, generating different traces; Furthermore, by hanging one above another in the Botín Center, irregular structures have been formed that seem to extend beyond the leaves.

As to you give (that either this, in German), the aforementioned installation by Bächli for the Swiss Pavilion of the Venetian Biennale, has as its source of inspiration Inger Christensen, a Danish poet who in her verses wanted to distort language and favor alternative modes of order, such as the organic interconnections of existence. He was able to find them Bächli in the four-month residency that he carried out in Iceland, developing drawings and photographs that offer a kind of filmic translation of his visions of the country's landscape; They contain a nature capable of enveloping us and alien to any type of exploitation or use for human benefit.

Silvia Bächli.  No title.  Farbfeld Series, 2022

Among his most recent projects at the Botín Center we will see Farbfeld (Color Field) (2022-2024), a new set of medium-format works on paper, which he began to create with gouache, due to its diverse possibilities of consistency, derived from its solubility, with which he creates colored surfaces between opaque and transparent. Despite their material and technical simplicity, these pieces continue to offer the viewer a slow and attentive contemplation of the environment. Also To have a shelf life, started in 2017 and still in progress: it is that collaborative installation with Hattan in which recovered shelves of shelves with a horizontal black line give rise to a puzzle in space; either Lange rota Linien (2022), drawings with lines four meters long, painted transversally, in which he sought to illustrate the speed of movement and the direction of his own gaze, or enigmatic sculptures in colored plaster resembling heads.

“Partitura” joins an exhibition line of attention to drawing that the Botín Center has been developing in recent years, and which includes exhibitions dedicated to Manolo Millares, Julie Mehretu and Juan Muñoz.

Silvia Bächli and Eric Hattan.  To have a shelf life, 2017
Silvia Bächli and Eric Hattan.  To have a shelf life, 2017
Silvia Bächli.  Lange rotate Linien (12), 2022
Silvia Bächli.  Music sheet.  Botín Center, Santander.  Images: Bethlehem of Benedict

Silvia Bächli. “Music sheet”


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