Shiftin' Layers / Shqipe Gashi, Aurélien Martin, Vanessa Piffaretti

Curated by Patricia Bianchi & SALON Contemporary Projects


Recent years have seen many artists returning to investigate early modernist techniques such as collage, assemblage and sculptural montage. These approaches result in a simultaneity of several layers that resonate both as form and signification. Distinct products and materials are (re-)combined to create new formal entities. The exhibition Shiftin' Layers investigates the contemporary relevance of these processes through the work of three very different artists, Shqipe Gashi, Aurélien Martin and Vanessa Piffaretti.

Apart from working with processes of layering contrasting materials and references, all three artists share an affinity for simple formal gestures and visible methods of composition that create a sense of immediacy. In the exhibition space, the individual works appear as a further playful but deliberate layering of materials and signifiers that may both confuse and attract the viewer. The very different pieces are themselves conceived as a kind of assemblage in space that triggers new dynamics, surprising readings and unexpected correspondences.

Shqipe Gashi (*1988, lives and works in Geneva) has contributed two new site-specific pieces for the exhibition. As part of her work she has also created a new, barely visible substrata for the exhibition, by painting the walls of the entire space a shiny white color that acts as an intermediate layer between the given architecture of the space and the superstructure of the exhibition. For the two installations the artist worked with materials with contrasting characteristics: perspex (transparent, synthetic, rigid, hard), silk (flowing, soft, diaphenous) and wood (warm, rough, textured). The pieces are arranged to direct attention to the spatial situation and open up new perceptions of the relation between work and space.

They enter a dialogue with the two objects by Aurélien Martin (*1993, lives and works in Geneva). no title (sculpture no1 for Shiftin' Layers) consists of already stacked exhibition posters of the off-space RATS in Vevey. Among the posters are magazines, sketching paper and cardboard held together with glue to create a nnew and particular shape. The glow of the integrated light bulbs contrasts with the cold light of the neons in the exhibition space. perfect match 1 also investigates the potential of light. The texture and surface of the material only becomes visible as a function of the light. Both materials used (neon tube and plaster) also relate to the artists interest in urban architecture.

Vanessa Piffaretti (*1977, lives and works in Lucerne) creates unfamiliar worlds through the medium of collage. She is interested in interlocking fragments that shape fantastic or impossible spaces in which figures or landscapes acquire a new identity. This approach is clearly visible in the four portraits from 2014 and 2015. The series Snowdon Holiday was inspired by the travel journal of a couple form the 1940s. Piffaretti used these jounrlas as a point of departure, removes elements, adds fragmentary new structures and allows alternative realities to unfold.

(Text: Patricia Bianchi & Marine Badan, translated by Kate Whitebread)