Critics’ Picks

Susanne Keller, Musicisti, 2015–2016, mixed media, dimensions variable.


“Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich”

Helmhaus Zurich
Limmatquai 31
December 7–February 11

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!” cried Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, the absolute archetype of both our present moment and an alternate one—wherein he exemplifies a different, fantastical order. Helmhaus’s exhibition, “Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich” (No Time – Art from Zurich) also moves within such an adventurous dialectic, honoring regional artistic practices, as is traditional in Switzerland.

The results are a breathtakingly beautiful exhibition that includes an installation of cacti by Magda Drozd; powerful towers and arks rendered in watercolors by the eighty-seven-year-old Willi Facen; four fascinating concrete rugs by Noomi Gantert; and the audio installation Poser, 2016, by Susanne Hefti. Also on view are Cécile Huber’s joyful parade of small sculptures; Susanne Keller’s monumental stage set made of cut paper, Musicisti, 2015–2016; Martina Mächler’s audio-installation, 71% (play), 2017; and the precise drawings of Daniel Zimmerman. Meanwhile, Michael Meier and Christoph Franz made concrete blocks using leftovers from Zurich’s Nagelhaus, while Patrizia Vitali’s video performances muse on the passage of time. In the glass vitrines of 7 Stationen (7 Stations), 2017, Klaus Tinkel arranges found materials into absurd landscapes.

Of this creative baker’s dozen, the artist Peter Schweri deserves special mention. The painter, illustrator, photographer, and object artist died in November, 2016, at seventy-seven. On view are early drawings by Schweri, as well as examples of the image-production systems, exemplifying Zurich constructivism, that made it possible for the artist—who had been completely blind since 2002—to work in a controlled, sculptural manner. In his art particularly, the creative potential of the city is revealed to be both clandestine and furious.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.