For his first institutional solo exhibition in South America, organized with Olivier Renaud-Clément, Not Vital (b. 1948, Sent, Switzerland) presents works that explore the relation between materiality, form and meaning, exploring familiar themes in his production.
“HEADs” (2013-2015) is a new set of works that explore the portrait somewhere in between of representation and abstraction. In a typical procedure of his process, that involves appropriating elements from local cultural manifestations encountered during his many travels, to create these series, Vital departed from an image of Buda that he encountered in a trip to Laos in 2013. The artist reduces its figurative representation to subtle contours that remove any individualized expression. Despite being made in such a way that pre-historical art comes to mind, their confection in highly reflective monochrome steel brings the viewer back to contemporary technologies. Since 2008, when he based his studio in the artistic district of Caochangdi, in Beijing, the artist has been collaborating with Chinese artisan to produce structures in stainless steel. For the “HEADs” series, the coating technique of physical vapour deposition was used to create highly polished reflecting and luminous surfaces.
The show also comprises the installation “750 Knives” (2004), a work created by stabbing a wall with 750 blades of varied dimensions, whose ends can be seen from the other side of the wall. The exhibition is completed with a site specific work, “Snowball Wall” (2015). The production begins with a performance by Vital who throws plaster balls against a wall; with the impact, they burst and take many forms. It’s the residues of the performance that remain on display during the visitation period of the show.
The conception of Vital’s production explores intensively his nomadic lifestyle and is equally influenced by his deep relationship with nature established during his childhood in the Swiss Alps. His body of work also approaches subjects such as the issue of housing and material life. Currently, Not Vital is also constructing one building of his “House to Watch the Sunset” series, near Manaus.