November 17, 2015 - Swiss Institute - Hans Schärer and Andrea Crespo
November 17, 2015

Hans Schärer and Andrea Crespo

Left: Hans Schärer, Untitled (Schlittenfahrt), 1971. Courtesy Galerie Anton Meier. © Erben Werk Hans Schärer / ProLitteris, Zurich, 2015. Right: Andrea Crespo, virocrypsis (still), 2015. Courtesy the artist and Hester, New York.

Hans Schärer
Madonnas and Erotic Watercolors

November 18, 2015–February 7, 2016

ONE FOR ALL | Andrea Crespo

November 18–December 20, 2015

Opening: November 17, 6–8pm

Swiss Institute 
18 Wooster Street 
New York, NY 10013

Hans Schärer: Madonnas and Erotic Watercolors

Swiss Institute is delighted to present the first US solo exhibition of Hans Schärer (b. 1927, Berne, d. 1997, St-Niklausen). This landmark exhibition pairs two of the artist’s most significant bodies of work, the Madonnas and the Erotic Watercolors, recently seen in an extensive exhibition at Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Switzerland this summer.

From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, Schärer painted over 100 paintings entitled Madonna, each featuring the head and body of an isolated figure, often with a framing silhouette around the head and shoulders suggesting long hair, a veil or a cloak. Painted with thick layers of oil paint and incorporating objects such as stones, hair, shells and keys, the Madonnas are both menacing and mesmerizing—typified by unnerving gazes and prominent, tooth-filled mouths that grimace and gape.

During the same period, Schärer painted 150 Erotic Watercolors, which, by contrast, are joyfully carnivalesque scenes in which bodies lustfully cavort and play. In settings that suggest a circus or a garden of earthly delights, sensual, statuesque women gaily take pleasure in their own company and from diminutive male figures. Taken together, the two series are complex explorations of faith, spirituality, vitality and eros.

An artist, musician, composer and writer, Schärer was an influential figure in the Swiss art scene of the 1970s and 1980s. In recent years, his work has received increased international attention—most prominently in the 55th Venice Biennale, The Encyclopedic Palace, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, when Cindy Sherman included a suite of Madonnas in her installation. Almost 20 years after his death, Swiss Institute is thrilled to exhibit these singular bodies of work for the first time to audiences outside of Europe.

Hans Schärer’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout Switzerland, including major solo exhibitions at Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, in 1982, 1993 and 2014, and the Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, in 2005 and 2001. In 2014, his Erotic Watercolors were the subject of a solo exhibition at Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris. Major international exhibitions include the 55th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia in 2013 and Biennale São Paulo in 1981. His work is featured in prominent museum collections such as: Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau; Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne; Museum im Lagerhaus, St, Gallen; and Kunshaus Zug, Zug.

Hans Schärer: Madonnas and Erotic Watercolors was organized in collaboration with the Aargauer Kunsthaus. Swiss Institute thanks Marion Schärer, Max Christian Graeff, Madeleine Schuppli, Nicole Rampa, and the lenders to the exhibition: Arguer Kunsthaus, Aarau; Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne; Fonds cantonal d’art contemporain, Geneva; Kunsthaus Zug, Zug; Kunstsammlung Kanton Luzern, Lucerne; The Museum of Everything, London; Museum of Porn in Art, Zurich; BSI Art Collection, Switzerland; Collection ALH, Genf; Charles de Montaigu; Beat Furrer; Bertrams Collection; Galerie Anton Meier, Geneva; Gertrud Haldemann-Schärer; Ugo Rondinone; Agnes Wigger Sigrist and Kurt Sigrist; Collection Tanner, Teufen; Anton Zwyssig and private collections.

ONE FOR ALL | Andrea Crespo: virocrypsis
Cynthia: How long has it been?
Celinde: It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing we can do about it, we’re trapped–
Cynthia: – We’re becoming. *both sigh*

Swiss Institute is pleased to present the first institutional solo exhibition in the United States of New York-based artist Andrea Crespo, centered on the new video, virocrypsis (2015), which develops the artist’s ongoing inquiry into posthuman desire.

Crespo is attentive to the way that communities have formed on sites where desire can be seen to take various forms, in the shape of characters, avatars and other types of vessels. In this vein, conjoined characters named Cynthia and Celinde appear in several of the artist’s works; virocrypsis features a splintered dialogue between their two voices. A sense of mutating desire and energy is captured by splattering liquid, bioprinters producing new fruits and singing five-headed Vocaloid(s), as well as stuttering punctuation that suggests an intense energy spinning in place: cooling, buffering and loading.

Crespo has previously used images of similar characters found in online image sharing communities such as DeviantArt, but here, Crespo has made digital tablet paintings of Cynthia and Celinde for the first time. While they have recognizable vernacular characteristics common to communities of fandom, they also depart from this style. In both the video and a new series of fabric prints, it seems possible the characters exist solely for each other, as though they might have drawn themselves.

Cynthia: The id flows in long-tails.
Celinde: Desires end in them, intensify, multiply.
Cynthia: Replicate. *giggles*

Andrea Crespo: virocrypsis is the fourth exhibition in the ONE FOR ALL series at SI. Building on Swiss Institute’s long history of providing a platform for emerging artists, each show will be the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in the United States, with a newly commissioned body of work specifically created for the exhibition space. Swiss Institute is grateful for support from the VIA Art Fund, Presenting Sponsor of the ONE FOR ALL series.

Andrea Crespo (b. 1993, Miami) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include: Hester, New York (2015) and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin (2015). Recent group exhibitions include: 89Plus: Filter Bubble, LUMA/Westbau, Zurich (2015); Looks, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015); and InHuman, Fredericianum, Kassel (2015).

Swiss Institute programming is made possible in part with public funds from Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council, The New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Main Sponsors include Luma Foundation and Friends of Swiss Institute (FOSI); Leading Partners include UBS and Victorinox. Swiss Institute gratefully acknowledges Swiss as Travel Partner, and Chelsea Hotels as Hospitality Partner. Swiss Institute is grateful to Via Art Fund, presenting sponsor of the ONE FOR ALL series; to the Andrea Crespo Exhibition Circle; and to Hester, New York for production support.

Media contact: Dan Tanzilli / Mathilde Campergue, Third Eye
dan [​at​] / mathilde [​at​] / T +1 646 593 8713

Swiss Institute
Share - Hans Schärer and Andrea Crespo
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York