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Far apart - close together

The book on the studio table this week is, 'Silvia Bachli far apart - close together'.*

A collection of essays and installation photographs published in 2012 on the occasion of the show of the same name at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen in Switzerland. I purchased the book from MK Gallery in 2013 when I visited the show by Silvia Bächli and Eric Hattan, 'What about Sunday?', which was their first exhibition in the U.K.


Bachli makes drawings on paper. Light, fluid marks made with a brush, using moody palettes of elemental colours. Watery colours, including blacks, that seem to have travelled across rusted metals, washed over patinated wood and drained through ancient earth. The imagery is of things observed, filed away, remembered, and then in their making, re-classified. Moving around her installations in a gallery is to experience, simultaneously, lightness and weight; the air of timelessness felt in the present.

I think it is the quality of translucency, apparent in her daily practices and in the drawings that immediately connect me to her work. She describes her activity as,


'…time and again doing something different to before, without giving up what has proceeded, taking everything with you and slowly developing it.” She asks herself these questions,


…How does it really look? How does it feel from the inside? How do I see it with other works?”.


Konrad Bitterli describes this statement as, '…the act of permanently monitoring one's own activities and as a continuous progression from one phase of work to the next.

Since March 2020 I have been making paintings and ongoingly questioning myself ‘how does this really look?’ It is several years since I have used multiple colours together on a surface. The current paintings are an exploration of ideas that emerged as a result of READER, a project I began last autumn exploring the work of Édouard Manet and Gunta Stölzl. The quietness of my monochrome world has exploded into technicolour. I really feel as if I have travelled to the land of Oz through having placed three tubes of paint on my table. Associations to these colours have flooded into the studio, recollections of fabric, confectionary, nature, print, interiors, industrial and domestic spaces, historical paintings, flavours, textures, colours from my personal history; a departmental multiverse.

Addressing myself to Bachli’s question, How does it feel from inside the painting? Here in the pictorial space of the work the colours are simply the results of mixing the contents of the tubes in various proportions, all matched by eye. The resulting relationships are no longer references but become forms with elusive fictions of their own.


Silvia Bachli writes that,

I am less and less interested in re-countable stories with a beginning and an end. The ephemeral between the stories, the tones are becoming important to me, with all their gaps , all that is unsaid, the allusions, the pauses. The stories without a beginning and an end, which cannot be tamed by words.’

I like that, not ‘re-countable’ stories, but loops and spaces; overlaps and undertones.

How do I see the work with other works?', Bachli asks. Her work is made and collected and 'sifted, designed to be viewed as her title states, Far apart - close together. Working with a specific location for her meticulously edited installations. Bachli says,


I always examine the possibilities for sequences and links...my interest in intervals, rhythms, syncopation sound intensity, compactions, weight, emptiness - whether inside of an ensemble or in a completely different space with lots of individual drawings - remains unchanged.’

The relationship with what I am currently making at the studio table and previous work is I think much closer than it may at first appear. Structure as always giving space for freedom, translucency in the washed grounds, forms in colour. Far but close. I’m happy that a jump has been made I’m aiming to keep a closeness, connecting and bringing the past work forward and moving it on together.

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*Silvia Bachli : Far Apart Close Together by Konrad Bitterli, Jurg Halter, Eva Kuhn. Published by Verlag fur Moderne Kunst, ISBN:9783869842974