Silva Bächli

Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève

With titles such as “Yellow as Quince” and “Tibet,” each of Silvia Bächli’s small, black and white drawings seems to suggest its own quirky universe of exotic associations and half-buried memories. When the drawings are grouped together, it is difficult to discern the individual ideas that reside in each expressive trace. As if to complicate matters further, her drawing style has become even more economical over the past few years, transcending gesture while maintaining a strong corporeal presence. Intimately focusing on fragments that reveal the core of an object, Bächli often depicts only details of things or bodies. Feminine themes appear, but the female body does not function as a leitmotif. In each individual work, Bächli is concerned with precision and with using the most appropriate medium; sometimes a found photograph can even take the place of a drawing.

These drawings are usually shown in specific constellations in a strictly delimited area, as they are in her studio, where after you look at them for a while, distinct groups begin to form. When they are hung, they are in a sense redrawn, and demand to be “read” as a whole. In this exhibition, Bächli could, for the first time, use an uninterrupted wall 17 meters long which enabled her to form constellations in a limited amount of time on site, allowing her a greater degree of spontaneity in creating a harmonious arrangement.

The ideal way to view Bächli’s drawings is to float through and constantly shift from one detail to another. Contrasts and transitions, breaks and relationships are created only to dissolve the next moment. Though at times the beginnings of a narrative line are discernible, it may end abruptly or lose itself in a digression. Using a traditional medium, Bächli questions both the conventions of drawing and the notion that an individual work is autonomous and static.

Hans Rudolf Reust

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.