BERN.- Subsequent to the "Mahjong" exhibition (2005), efforts were made to organize an artists' exchange with China. As of 2007, with the help of the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei an apartment-studio was set up in Beijing and made available for six months at a time to young Swiss artists. Over a period of two years, the GegenwART foundation and its patron Dr. h.c. Hansjörg Wyss supported this initiative and financed the stay of five artists/artist-couples there. These included the Geneva artists Marc Bauer, Sharyar Nashat and Pierre-Philippe Freymond, the Zurich artist Christian Vetter and the artist-brothers Cyril and Gregory Chapuisat from Founex.
This group exhibition presents the artistic fruits of their exciting experiences, and also includes works by the artist Ana Roldan, who trained in Berne, is resident in Zurich and lived in the studio of the City of Zurich in Kunming for six months in 2008.
The sojourn in China made a lasting impression on all seven artists and is reflected in their work in different ways. The numerous large building-sites, the most striking expression of the fundamental change which the Middle Kingdom is undergoing, left a particular mark. Pierre-Philippe Freymond's photographs, for example, convey his preoccupation with the demolition of whole districts, the churned-up earth and the ever higher buttresses; Sharyar Nashat made a film about the casting of a concrete column; and the Chapuisat brothers again show themselves to be masters of sculptural and architectural spatial transformation.
Christian Vetter's large paintings and cycle of drawings even display a fundamental change of style and theme, away from colour and towards abstraction. Ana Roldan, by contrast, engaged conceptually with Chinese history and with the importance of China as an economic power.
Works by Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler and Meret Oppenheim have made the Museum of Fine Arts Bern an institution with an international reputation. At the present time, the constantly growing and evolving collection consists of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures as well as 48,000 drawings, prints, photographs, videos and films. The roots of the museum’s history reach back to the revolutionary ideas proliferating towards the end of the 18th century which, in 1809, led to the founding of the National Art Collection in Bern and, in 1879, to the opening of the first museum building.
The Museum of Fine Arts Bern is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a permanent collection and houses works covering eight centuries.
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