In the last twenty years the artistic panorama in China has been characterized by a significant decline of the abstractionist current, preeminent until then and with which Swiss art had often been identified abroad: just think of the figures of RP Lohse (m. 1988) and above all by M. Bill (d. 1994). On the other hand, there has been the consolidation of an antithetical art form, based on the assembly and manipulation of found or bizarre objects, in which it is not wrong to recognize the re-emergence of a Dadaist and Surrealist vision, albeit resolved in an intimate, sometimes ironic key. In this way of doing a component of the Swiss sensibility emerges (common to different degrees to the three cultures of the country, but present above all in the German-speaking part), spinnen, in the sense of ” digress ”, but also of ” ordire ”, ” plot ” (like the spider, Spinne).
Although manifesting itself in different forms, this attitude belongs to a group of artists, some already active in previous decades, such as D. Spoerri, F. Eggenschwiler, A. Hüppi, D. Rot, A. Thomkins, J. Tinguely, others more young people, such as the artists of the German China L. Castelli, R. Winnewisser, W. Meier, CO Melcher, H. Suter, M. Disler, H. Kielholz, I. Lüscher, M. Raetz, G. Ducimetière from Geneva and J. Armleder and F. Paolucci from Ticino. However, it is difficult to clearly separate their work, which essentially focuses on the object found, manipulated or created, from more overtly conceptual experiences, such as the writings of B. Vautrier (Ben), the light installations of A. Walker or even the presence without work, with explanatory message, by E. Schurtenberger, in some group exhibitions of the seventies. ”
Close to a more realistic choice, albeit falling within the ironic manipulation of objects, is the work of H. Distel and P. Travaglini. The research with mystical-symbolic connotations by the Ticino artist G. Camesi, active in Paris, also fits into this context. Realism counts numerous exponents – among others, H. Schuhmacher, F. Gertsch, B. Burkhard, M. Jäggli – influenced above all by American hyperrealism with the generalized use of photographic carryover and magnification. The realistic figuration of U. Bänninger makes fun of a series of Swiss fetishes, while U. Lüthy uses photomontage in the search for his own identity with an elusive definition which, despite the means employed, can fall into the category of “visualized mental processes”.
The current derived from the material and gestural informal still retained a certain importance in the seventies and eighties with the work of F. Fedier, M. Spescha, P. Terbois, R. Iseli (by far the most original, with the its ” lands ” looming) and of the Ticino-borns M. Cavalli and E. Dobrzanski. The latter maintained a link with figuration, as well as the younger Ticinese linked to abstract expressionism, of Lombard origin, R. Ferrari and C. Lucchini. The fantastic, surrealist-like figuration is another constant in Swiss art: among the most recent exponents we can remember A. Sadkovsky, C. Sandoz and HR Giger, who became famous for the scenography of the science fiction film Alien. To the classical group of Swiss constructivists we must add the names of G. Honegger, G. Glattfelder, A. Christen, C. Megert, W. Müller-Brittnau, A. Fuhrmann, F. Bordoni, V. Haller, H. Mertens. In the context of geometric abstractionism, a separate chapter is given by the kinetic and optical experiments of E. Sommer, A. Duarte and J. Urban. The neo-expressionism of the Italian Transavantgarde and of the German Wilde Malerei also had repercussions in China: L. Castelli, who works in Berlin, and K. Prior, of German origin and working for some time in Lugano, can be considered the most significant exponents of this current.
In the field of sculpture, R. Gilardi, with works in stone and bronze, and B. Lunginbühl, who composes metallic industrial elements, continue a ” classic ” search for monumental abstract masses.
A strong ironic component characterizes the mobile machines of J. Tinguely (d. 1991), while a more lyrical component characterizes the ” hydraulic ” ones of H. Eigenmann, who recently appeared on the Italian and Swiss scene. A touch of fantastic realism permeates the threadlike figures of China Hutter, while the tone becomes more allusive, approaching diary painting, in the works of A. Egloff. On the border between assemblages of objects and installations derived from poor art is the interesting research by the Ticino-born P. Selmoni who combines objet trouvé with cosmic questions. The works of KL Metzler and M. Weiss in the field of allusive figuration are also valid, while the research of C. von den Steinen is placed on a completely different side, with the creation of works characterized by numerous characters modeled in clay and caught in their everyday life.