The Villa du Parc Contemporary Art Center has begun a seasonal collaboration through several exhibitions and types of support with the Swiss artist Didier Rittener. The aim is to render the public on a number of occasions both witness to and viewer of an approach and a dynamic of work in progress.
Since 2001 Rittener’s work has been based on a repertory of images that he has sampled from popular and highbrow culture (press, advertising, history of art, and so on) without regard to hierarchy, genealogy or chronology. The artist’s “borrowings” are first passed through the filter of a black-and-white drawing and are subject to every possible manipulation, from distortion to collage to partial erasures, etc. Called libre de droits (duty free), this corpus comprises some 400 drawings, each of which may then be transferred to different supports, be it sculpture, wall drawing, wallpaper, and so on, according to the space and the venue. “I transform and shift images,” the artist explains. He combines a conceptual approach, an instinctive way of working and an attitude that has come down to him from surrealism.
Two works were initially exhibited in Le Syndrome de Bonnard (The Bonnard Syndrome) show jointly mounted this spring with Mamco (Musée d’art moderne contemporain, Geneva). Rittener proposed to mirror “ Wilderness,” a piece of sculpture that is part of the Mamco collection and is inspired by a Malevich painting, with a new mural work, “Sgraffito,” a depiction of the sculpture in plan view that brings the three-dimensional object back towards the original painting. Back-and-forth shifts from one figurative rendering to another after shared motifs lie at the heart of Rittener’s output and ricochets into the summer exhibition with two new wall pieces, also derived from
Malevich’s geometric forms. The two works will be produced for the show and on a scale commensurate with the venue’s architecture. The first, occupying the veranda, is called “tout ce qui était directement vécu est devenu simple représentation” (everything that has been directly lived has become a simple representation). A kind of riddle, it sets the tone for the whole of the show. And during the month of July, the artist will create another wall piece, though in a very large format and with a perspective effect, on the very façade of the Villa du Parc. The work will be inaugurated in September and will remain in place on the contemporary art center for three years.
Produced for the Villa du Parc, these three wall pieces in varying scales and techniques will be on view with the drawings and sculptures that Rittener has created in the last few years. The originals of the “Libre de droits” corpus will be seen regularly throughout the show along with several series of figurative landscapes done in a range of formats. Associated with the abstract patterns of the wall creations, these landscapes can also be seen as a succession of unrealizations echoing the show’s title.