Hu Qingyan
"Absent & Superfluous"

Exhibition Views

November 3 - December 30, 2018




Hu Qingyan

Empty Mountain, 2018
yellow marble
170 × 110 x 95 cm, detail






Hu Qingyan
Absent & Superfluous

Galerie Urs Meile Beijing is pleased to announce Absent & Superfluous, a solo exhibition featuring Beijing-based artist Hu Qingyan (*1982) most recent works. The exhibition draws its title from a key concept in Hu’s work, namely the tension between what is essential, supposed to be, but is not, and what is unnecessary, supposed not to be, but is. Along with some new works such as Swaying Wall (2015-2018, seven-pieces, dimensions variable) and Empty Mountain (2018, yellow marble, 170 × 110 × 95 cm), the exhibition will feature exciting developments of previously existing series, of which Go in One Ear and out The Other (on show: Go in One Ear and out The Other No. 2, 2016, carbon steel, air, 166 × 485 × 188 cm) or Guardian Angel (on show: Guardian Angel II, 2018, wood (paulownia), marble in various colors, 219 × 140 × 125 cm). A series of paintings will also be on display, where the artist continues to blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture. A key issue of the exhibition lies indeed in Hu’s boundary-pushing exploration of the medium of sculpture, and, more broadly, of artistic conventions and the action of making art.

Whereas Michelangelo declared “I did not invent sculpture. The sculptures are inherent in the stones, I have only set them free”, Hu Qingyan takes the opposing view of the renowned Italian sculptor with his Empty Mountain. The artist divided a marble stone about the height of an average adult-sized person into three distinct parts to empty them from their content. He then reassembled the pieces in their original shape, creating a hollow husk of stone. Thus, what appears as an ordinary boulder placed in an exhibition space, a ready-made, actually underwent a hidden transformation in its inner core. As the sculptural gesture is concealed from the observer, the essence of sculpture is paradoxically revealed.

In the series Guardian Angel and Gem (on show: Gem I, 2018, marble, metal pedestal, 42 × 85 × 70 cm), Hu Qingyan explores another concept at the heart of his artistic production – the accidental and the random. Guardian Angel consists of a found log serving as the basis of the work. The shape of the log, created by the random action of nature, dictates the rest of the sculpture, the marble stones prolonging its natural lines. While the “accidental” shape of the stones is preserved, Hu polished their surface, conferring the work a sculpture-like quality. The random and accidental factors as well as the artist’s minimalist intervention are ultimately hidden beneath the harmony and simplicity that emanates from the work. The artist adopts the same approach in Swaying Wall a 7-part work consisting of steel cables and chunks of cement scavenged from the demolished studio building of the artist. Hu polished the cement into individual spherical shapes, connected together by the random welding of the cables. The polished surface of the spheres then contrasts with the violence and chaos of the overall composition.

In addition, Absent & Superfluous will showcase two series of Hu’s reflections on paintings, Contemporary Painting (on show: Contemporary Painting I, 2018, dimensions between 180-222 × 160-320 cm) and Flesh Color (2018, 56 × 160 × 110 cm). Both series are stitched three-dimensional collages of scavenged scraps and cutouts from collected oil paintings created by fellow artists and students. This sculptural approach to painting is also a play on the tension between abstract and figurative: although resolutely abstract, the Contemporary Paintings series consists of cutouts taken from unidentifiable parts of figurative paintings. As of the Flesh Color series, what appears at first glance as a crumpled monochromatic pastel lying on the floor is in fact a somewhat appalling collection of painted body parts.

Hu Qingyan was born in 1982 in Weifang, Shandong Province, China and studied sculpture at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in Guangzhou and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He lives and works in Beijing. His recent solo exhibitions include 空壳Hollow Husk, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland (2016); Eternal Glory, Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, China (2015). A selection of his most recent group shows include: Encounter Asia – Multi-vision of Youth, Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Tank Loft, Chongqing Contemporary Art Center, Chongqing, China (2018); Forty Years of Sculpture • Part 1 (2008-2017), Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition, Shenzhen, China (2017); The 3rd Today’s Documents – BRIC-á-brac: The Jumble of Growth, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China (2016); Shut up and paint, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2016); The Exhibition of Annual of Contemporary Art of China, Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing, China (2016); M + Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art, ArtisTree, Hong Kong, China (2016); Familiar Otherness: Art Across Northeast Asia, Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong, China (2015); 28 Chinese, Rubell Family Collection/ Contemporary Arts Foundation, Miami, USA (2013); Building Bridges – Zeitgenossische Kunst aus China, Wolfsberg, Ermatingen, Switzerland (2013).

His works can be found in the collection of many museums and institutions including National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, M+ Sigg Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Today Art Museum, and K11 Art Foundation.


The Galatea Dilemma, or the strange case of Dr. Frankenstein and Mr Pygmalion
by Christopher Moore

Who is the monster, the creator or his creation? Ambiguity drives the story of Frankenstein, Mary shelley’s 1818 novel, alternatively titled or, the Modern Prometheus, the greek god who created man from clay, then in defiance of his fellow gods, gave the secret of fire to humans. The creation myth is reprised as artistic endeavor in the story of pygmalion, the sculptor who fell in love with his ivory carving of a woman and prayed to aphrodite, the goddess of love, to grant him a living wife exactly like his sculpture. Returning home, he kisses her lips and she comes alive, her ivory form metamorphosing into living flesh: Galatea lives. the story is most famously recounted in ovid’s Metamorphosis, but pygmalion has many descendants, variously including pinocchio, snow White, and George Bernard shaw’s play about education and the english class system, Pygmalion (1913). Equally, the promethean stories also metamorphose and metastasize, but these are generally more disturbing: from Frankenstein to ridley scott’s own Prometheus (2012) and recently alex garland’s Ex Machina (2015). these cautionary tales also contain another, related dichtomy: the desire to create vs. the creation’s desire. striving for love (pygmalion) or knowledge (frankenstein) is driven by desire but the very thing desired eventually bares its own autonomy, whether to live and love, or simply to become an artwork independent of its creator, literally open to interpretation. It is the inevitable dilemma of all creators, gods and artists, and mothers and fathers too.

Hu Qingyan is a sculptor, an artist who fashions form by carving and constructing matter. Qingyan makes things in space as opposed to a painter who makes images of space. His work has always focused on the nature of the material, beginning with his early work in which he created chains from wood and other material transmogrifications. In recent years he has experimented more with the potentiality of what constitutes a sculptor’s material, including the painted form.

Throughout art education in China, painting students are trained from the body; how to represent the body: observing, studying, and tracing their forms in their countless variations. Not photographic shadows but formed representations, with skins and flesh conjured out of oil paint. It is no surprise that millions of these painted people end up hidden beneath multiple layers of paint, images scraped and over-painted into oblivion or eventually forgotten within the archeology of abandoned canvasses, stacked and rolled, until recycled again or burned or thrown away completely. In Contemporary Painting I (2018, oil on canvas (a lot of oil paintings collected from other people are spliced and stiched after cutting), 195 × 160 cm, frame: 150 × 130 cm), Hu takes the abandoned canvases of his artist friends and students and sews them together. On first acquaintance, the wall-mounted work, which employs a traditional canvas stretcher, seems to play on similar notions of “expanded painting”, as practiced by artists such as angela de la Cruz, resulting in an abstract wall-mounted relief. As we keep looking though, the details of the crime emerge: prometheus as cannibal. in Flesh Color (2018, oil on canvas (a lot of oil paintings collected from other people are spliced and stiched after cutting), dimensions variable) a sheet of portraits lies in a crumpled heap on the floor, faces gazing out at strange angles, their bodies intertwined and tangled.

When I asked Hu about this, he replied, “paintings are like the status quo of the image world – this is the correspondence to the current situation – [a superfluity of images] full of different visual information.” Images have become our modern matter, like marble or wood were in previous centuries, and paintings represent the overweening quotidian marker, the attempt at definition that becomes prescriptive rule, also among photography and film, too often the faithful servants of conformity. And yet, as Hu himself notes, “When the painter is facing the canvas, there is a pure start, a complete blank white canvas; whereas with sculptures you always face materials, that have different knowledges or experiences before you meet them.” Hu does not offer refuge for the paintings or the aspirations and struggles that created them. Then again, neither does Dr. frankenstein wish to know of the lives of the people out of whose parts he assembled his monster. But Hu is not reckless like prometheus; there is no threat of catastrophe – his intentions are closer to pygmalion. Hu takes the identities and previous experiences of the materials, the painted canvases, and refashions something living out of that which was dead, abandoned and superfluous, lifting the two-dimensional into the real world through kaleidoscopic surgeries, putting flesh behind the skin; out of design: matter.

These paintings form part of Hu Qingyan’s latest exhibition, Absent & Superfluous, at Galerie Urs Meile Beijing. Staged as a type of theatrical workshop, in which the artist’s studio becomes the laboratory of a sorcerer-scientist who seeks the secret to life, Hu poses a series of riddles as to the nature of creation and desire.

Scattered around the operating theater are various ambiguous limbs, questionable and grotesque. Gem (2018, marble, metal pedestal) is a piece of found marble sitting on a recycled steel support whose original use seems now forgotten. The marble shape recalls, says Hu, a foot, but it is too large and heavy, not human. Hu told me he wanted to make it “a little bit weird”. Inverting the bauhaus design principle that form follows function, and as with the recycled paintings, here the artistic function follows form. Hu takes this strategy further in Guardian Angel (2018, wood (plane tree), marble (different colors)), a sort of giant hand, developed from a found tree trunk with added marble fingers, the threat of its latent power frozen. Then again, the fist’s middle finger is raised – so maybe not so latent after all. It’s a matter of perspective.

Now we encounter a rhizome structure of connected tubes and horns, a collection of resurrected pipes of different shapes and diameters and Qingyan made do to reconnect them. Go in One Ear and out The Other No. 2 (2016, carbon steel, air, 166 × 485 × 188 cm) it is called, priming the inherent biological connection between the ear, nose and throat. the gas pipes have been converted to air pipes, things for conveying sound and oxygen. Its purpose is passive: to pick up the sound from one part of the room and transport it to another. Thus, while its material is metal, its medium is air. It does something else as well. this strange system inevitably recalls other processing systems within the body too, primarily the digestive system, taking notions of communication in other unsettling directions.

Hu Qingyan continues to assemble the body of his monster – will he be free or a slave? We reach Swaying Wall (2018, brick, rebar, 7 pcs., dimensions variable), a hanging rebar skeleton, the taut wire threaded through small boulders of red brick, concrete, stone and tiles, the construction drawn from the mundane rubble of metropolitan beijing’s and indeed China’s now constant redevelopment, and which can be seen on any construction site (it reminded me of shi Jinsong’s scholar stones made of similar refuse masonry). This wall though, is also informed by the way in which our vital organs hang from the ribcage and spine. The wall, barely a wall at all, made of the detritus of former homes, offices and factories, is more air than structure. We can see and pass through it. The hanging rocks and bricks are literally people, leftover marionettes of bones and organs, seemingly eviscerated.

Now we await the electrical storm that will bring the corpse to life.

At the heart of the exhibition is Empty Mountain (2018, yellow marble, 170 × 110 × 95 cm). a large rock, roughly the height of a person, has been cut into three pieces and hollowed out. At different times it could be an egg, a home, a sanctuary, or perhaps a jail, or even a sarcophagus. its metaphoric possibilities contain many lifecycles. In a sense, it mimics a walnut-like cranium, the cradle of our ideas but then again, also the womb from which we came. the whole exhibition is concerned with the architecture of our bodies; the desire to know what holds them up, what makes them tick: the desire for knowledge, to create, to be gods. The desire to build a monster, one capable of thinking and feeling like a real person, still seems arrogant, eccentric even, involving superhuman powers currently, still, beyond human capacity. Yet our mythologies speak constantly to our creative desires, and fundamentally to our desire for self-procreation; the desire to recreate ourselves.

Michelangelo spoke of how he did not create his carved sculptures but instead released them from the marble which imprisoned them. In the tale of the Monkey King, sun Wukong is born fully-formed and immortal from a stone. Through Daoist practice he acquires extraordinary supernatural powers, including strength and metamorphosis. Yet after rebelling against heaven, he is imprisoned under a mountain by buddha. Subsequently he is offered a chance of redemption by travelling with the monk, tang sanzang, to retrieve buddhist sutras, as recounted in the classic novel, Journey to the West. The Monkey King is both an agent of chaos and creation. He can clone himself into a multitude. He can destroy and make havoc. Maybe Hu Qingyan’s Empty Mountain is the broken egg but its name suggests it might also be the mountain prison. We cannot see sun Wukong though. He has gone, and we don’t know what tricks he is he up to. Strange though that we should want to control our creations, coming from a peculiar mix of desire, arrogance and ultimately fear. So then, who is the monster?


Mirko Baselgia

Exhibition Views

November 23, 2018 - February 2, 2019

Mirko Baselgia

American Railroads F4, 2018
swiss stone pine wood (pinus cembra),
american nut wood (frame),
180 x 90 cm, detail



Mirko Baselgia

2018 (english)

Galerie Urs Meile is pleased to announce the opening of the first solo exhibition in the gallery of Swiss artist Mirko Baselgia (*1982). The exhibition’s title Habitat can be understood in the biological sense of the term, namely as an ecosystem in which an organism or a group of organisms lives and evolves within the specificities of the surrounding environment. The term originates from the Latin verb habitare – “to live in” or “inhabit” – and in full refers to the natural and artificial features that characterize a human habitat. Mirko Baselgia is interested in the multiple facets of this notion, analyzing the connections that human, animal and vegetal species share with each other and with their surrounding environment. According to the artist, the concept of “habitat” deals not only with the notion of territory, but also with the (under)ground and the invisible life hiding beneath it.

The pomegranates (Purscheida, 2018, volcano stone from the Vesuvius eruption of 1944, each (H) 11cm, Ø 11 cm) exhibited in the first room refer precisely to the underworld and its Greek goddess Persephone, a figure that embodies vegetal renewal and is commonly associated with spring. The myth relates that Persephone was gathering flowers when Hades abducted her and brought her to the underworld. As Demeter was profoundly shaken by the disappearance of her daughter, her husband Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone. Faking to comply with Zeus’ request, Hades tricked Persephone by offering her some pomegranates seeds. For Persephone had tasted the food of the dead, Hades condemned her to spend a third of the year – the winter months – underground. The myth actually explains the origins of the cycle of seasons: when Persephone and her mother Demeter are reunited, the Earth flourishes, whereas winter comes back when she goes back to Hades. The black fruits shown in the exhibition are reproductions in original size of pomegranates sculpted into volcanic stone, debris collected by the artist in the vicinity of the Vesuvius and left by the last eruption of 1944. The choice of materials was dictated by the underground origin of the stone, which underwent a profound chemical transformation as liquid magma erupted from the bowels of the earth. If the pomegranates symbolize temptation in the Greek myth, the ones exhibited in the gallery are still intact, leaving Persephone with the possibility of a choice and the hope that she could change her destiny.

Four drawings are also on display in the first room (Autolyse - Coprinus Comatus, 2018, pencil, ink out of the Coprinus Comatus, handmade paper from Papiermühle Basel, each 77 x 55 cm). Each of them represents one or more coprinus comatus, a common fungus also known as the “shaggy mane” or the “inky cap” because of the unusual method it uses to distribute its spores. Indeed, this type of fungi digests its own cap, which contribute to the dissemination of the spores. As auto-digestion “Autolyse” takes place, the cap and gills change into a black, gooey liquid, or ink. Self-destruction acquires here an unexpected positive meaning, allowing the growth of the next generation. Intrigued by this peculiar phenomenon, the artist went looking for these fungi in meadows. He first made drawings on site, and then collected the fungi to extract their ink following an old recipe. Realized with the fungi’s ink, the exhibited works are analogical enlargements of the original sketches. The mushrooms are depicted in their natural environment to highlight the strong connection that these organisms share with their surroundings.

The last piece of the room consists of a “natural print” of a bird nest found during one of the artist’s strolls through the woods (Nia d’utschels - sylvia borin, 2018, lead (20% tin, 80% lead), 77 x 55 x 1.1 cm). Baselgia obtained this print by placing the nest between a plate of steel and a plate of lead pressed against each other through a pair of rollers under considerable pressure, a perfect impression of the nest appearing on the much softer lead plate. Here too the destruction of the nest leads to the creation of something new, a unique print evoking the notions of presence, absence, mortality as well as the marks that every single organism leaves in the environment. Furthermore, bird nests are a common symbol for homes, the habitat that one shapes to live comfortably and safely. But if birds can freely choose their home, the artist draws attention to the fact that mankind has created a system in which inhabiting a space comes with a cost and many social, political and economical restrictions.

The main gallery room displays a series of wooden works inspired by a previous installation realized at the Bellelay Abbey, Switzerland for the solo exhibition Pardis (Curzoin) in spring 2018. The installation spanned the length of the church’s nave and transept (650 m2) and reproduced a part of the American railroad system in the 1870s based on the Rand, McNally & Co.’s New Railway Guide Map of 1873. The 9 works presented in the gallery are selected fragments of this floor installation. Instead of having them lie on the floor, the artist chose to frame them and hang them on the walls (American Railroads, 2018, Swiss stone pine wood (pinus cembra), American nut wood (frame), between 180 x 90 and 180 x 360 cm). The resulting reliefs remind us of the original railway tracks, but create simultaneously new, more abstract entities. Each module’s and arrangement’s title is actually composed by the letters and numbers evoking the place they occupied in the bigger map conceived by the artist to build the installation at the Bellelay Abbey. These fragments isolates one particular coordinate of the grid, reflecting on the notion of  boundaries and demarcation, a direct consequence of the manmade exploitation of natural territories. The frames transform each fragment into a new territory, and give birth to isolated microcosms, highlighting the ideas of connection, division, human possession, and of restricted liberty.

Material and structural transformation processes are at the base of many works of the artist, who is interested in using a variety of materials, working in direct contact with them, and observing their physical and chemical transformation. Like an alchemist, through the visible alterations of the external world, its materials and structures, the artist achieves an inner, personal transformation allowing him to get closer to his true self and to shape the way he interacts with his environment.

The ideas of territory, natural resources, impermanence of things, and the cycle of life, death and rebirth are central to the present exhibition and recurrent in the artist’s practice. Baselgia observes and redefines the dynamics and structures that shape our world, revealing the essential interdependence that connect human beings and their activities to the rest of the natural world. Through the exhibition, viewers are invited to reflect and progress in the exploration of their own inner world.

Mirko Baselgia was born 1982 in Lantsch/Lenz, Switzerland. He graduated 2010 at the Zurich University of the Arts in Fine Arts. His solo shows include: Pardis (Curzoin), Abbatiale de Bellelay, Bellelay, Switzerland (2018); Transmutaziun, Kunst in der Krypta No.5, Grossmünster Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (2017); The pattern which connects, Kunstmuseum Olten, Olten, Switzerland (2014). Recent group exhibitions include: Beehave, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, Switzerland (2018); Formen der Natur: Pure Nature Art, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany (2018); Extended Ground, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland (2017); Nach der Natur - Material, Form, Struktur, Museum Sinclair-Haus - Altana Kulturstiftung, Bad Homburg, Germany (2017); Triennale 2017 - Art Contemporain Valais, Martigny, Switzerland (2017).


2018 (deutsch)


Die Galerie Urs Meile freut sich die erste Einzelausstellung des Schweizer Künstlers Mirko Baselgia (*1982) in Luzern zu präsentieren. Der Ausstellungstitel Habitat geht auf einen Begriff der Biologie zurück, der sowohl den Ort bezeichnet, an dem ein bestimmter Organismus oder eine Gemeinschaft von Organismen lebt, als auch die spezifischen Umweltbedingungen dieses Ortes. Der Terminus stammt vom lateinischen Verb “habitare” für “(be)wohnen” und bezieht sich im Wesentlichen auf die Summe der natürlichen und künstlichen Bedingungen, die menschliche Siedlungen kennzeichnen. Mirko Baselgia interessiert sich für alle Facetten dieses Konzepts, einschliesslich der Wechselbeziehungen der pflanzlichen Spezies, aber auch von Tieren und Menschen sowie der Umwelt, in der sie alle sich bewegen. Für den Künstler hat die Idee des “Lebensraums” nicht nur sehr viel mit dem Territorium zu tun, sondern auch mit dem Erdreich und dem unsichtbaren Leben, das in dieser unterirdischen Welt verborgen ist.

Die im ersten Raum ausgestellten Granatäpfel (Purscheida, 2018, Vulkanstein vom Vesuv, Ausbruch 1944, je (H) 11cm, Ø 11 cm) erinnern dabei an diese Unterwelt und deren griechische Schutzgöttin Persephone, zugleich die Verkörperung der Vegetation, die auch den Frühling symbolisiert. Die Sage berichtet, dass Persephone gerade Blumen sammelte, als sie von Hades gepackt und in die Unterwelt verschleppt wurde. Weil Demeter, ihre Mutter, darüber so verzweifelt war, schaltete sich ihr Vater Zeus ein und befahl Hades, Persephone wieder freizugeben. Dieser kam der Bitte nach, vorher aber überlistete er sie, indem er ihr einige Granatapfelsamen zu essen gab. Weil Persephone somit Essen aus der Unterwelt gekostet hatte, musste sie fortan ein Drittel des Jahres – die Wintermonate – dort bleiben und durfte nur die verbleibende Zeit bei den Göttern darüber verbringen. Im Grunde ist dies eine Entstehungsgeschichte, um den Zyklus der Jahreszeiten zu erklären: wenn Persephone und ihre Mutter Demeter vereint sind, erblüht die Erde in Vegetation, aber für einige Monate im Jahr, wenn die Göttin in die Unterwelt zurückkehrt, wird der Erdboden wieder zum Ödland. Die schwarzen Früchte sind exakt vergrösserte Reproduktionen von Granatäpfeln, die in der Nähe des Vesuvs gefunden wurden. Der Künstler formte sie aus vulkanischem Gestein vom letzten Ausbruch im Jahr 1944, das er in diesem Gebiet gesammelt hat. Seine Wahl wurde durch den unterirdischen Ursprung dieses steinernen Materials bestimmt, das im Laufe des Differenzierungsprozesses des Magmas aus dem Vulkan entsteht. Da die hier ausgestellten Granatäpfel noch geschlossen sind, verkörpern sie die Verführung - und bieten Persephone die Möglichkeit, sich zu entscheiden, damit bleibt die Hoffnung, ihr Schicksal noch ändern zu können.

Im selben Raum sehen wir eine Serie von vier Zeichnungen (Autolyse - Coprinus Comatus, 2018, Bleistift, Coprinus Comatus-Tinte, auf handgefertigtem Papier aus der Papiermühle Basel, je 77 x 55 cm). Jede davon zeigt ein, zwei oder drei Exemplare vom “Coprinus comatus”, einem weit verbreiteten Pilz, auf Deutsch “Spargelpilz” oder “Schopftintling” genannt, weil sich sein weißlicher Hut und die Lamellen zu einer tintenartigen Substanz verflüssigen können. Das Lamellengewebe verdaut sich dabei quasi selbst und krümmt sich nach innen, was die Freisetzung der aussen liegenden Sporen erleichtert. Durch den biologischen Prozess der Selbstzersetzung oder Autolyse zerfällt der gesamte Fruchtkörper und verwandelt sich in schwarze Tinte. Der Zerfall hat also eine unverhofft positive Bewandtnis: er ist die notwendige Voraussetzung für das Entstehen der nächsten Pilzgeneration. Baselgia interessierte sich für dieses eigenartige Phänomen und ging im Wald auf die Suche nach Schopftintlingen. Zunächst zeichnete er die Pilze und pflückte sie, um daraus nach einem alten Rezept die schwarze Tinte herzustellen. Bei den ausgestellten Arbeiten handelt es sich um analoge Vergrösserungen der mit Pilztinte ausgeführten Originalzeichnungen. Die Pilze sind in ihrer natürlichen Umgebung dargestellt, um die starke Verbindung dieser Organismen mit dem umgebenden Boden und anderen Lebewesen zu unterstreichen.

Ein “Naturselbstdruck” ergänzt die Gestaltung des ersten Raums: ein Vogelnest (Nia d’utschels - sylvia borin, 2018, Blei (80% Blei, 20% Zinn), auf Sperrholz aufgezogen, gerahmt in schwarzem Stahl, 77 x 55 x 1.1 cm), das der Künstler bei einem Spaziergang gefunden hat. Um diesen Abdruck zu erhalten, wurde das Nest zwischen eine Stahlplatte und eine weitere aus Blei gelegt, die anschliessend unter hohe Druck durch ein Walzenpaar gezogen wurde. Die Trennung der beiden Platten liess schliesslich einen perfekten Eindruck des Nestes in der bleihaltigen Platte entstehen. Durch den Pressvorgang wurde das Nest selbst zerstört, und das so gewonnene Relief wurde daher zu einem Unikat, die Vorstellung von Präsenz, Abwesenheit, Sterblichkeit evoziert und an die Spuren erinnert, die jedes einzelne lebende Subjekt oder Objekt in der Umwelt hinterlässt. Nester sind auch Symbole für Heimat, für den Lebensraum (Habitat), in dem man bequem und sicher leben kann. Vögel können ihr Zuhause frei wählen und müssen nicht dafür bezahlen – eine Tatsache, die der Künstler reflektiert und in Bezug dazu setzt, dass sich die Menschen ein System geschaffen haben, in dem das Wohnen einen mehr oder weniger hohen Preis hat und von vielerlei Einschränkungen geprägt ist.

An den Wänden des Hauptraums der Galerie hängen verschiedene Anordnungen von gerahmten Strukturen aus Arvenholz. Diese Module bilden als Installation und auf der Basis von Rand, McNally & Co.’s New Railway Guide Map aus dem Jahr 1873 das amerikanische Eisenbahnnetz nach. Der Künstler hat diese Rauminstallation im vergangenen Frühjahr für seine Einzelausstellung Pardis (Curzoin) im Kloster Bellelay realisiert und diese Strukturen 22 cm über dem Boden der Kirche montiert. American Railroads (2018, Arvenholz und amerikanisches Nussholz, zwischen 90 x 90 und 180 x 360 cm) sind einzelne Fragmente der 650 m2 grossen Bodenarbeit und hängen nun in Rahmen aus amerikanischem Walnussholz an den Wänden. Die daraus resultierenden Reliefs erinnern an das Eisenbahnschienennetz aus dem Jahr 1873, schaffen aber zugleich neue, abstraktere Realitäten: ihre Gitterstruktur verweist auf Fragmentierungen und die Entstehung von Grenzen, wie sie sich aus der menschlichen Umgestaltung von Naturräumen ergeben. Jedes Modul und jedes Arrangement trägt als Titel die Buchstaben/Zahlen-Kombination der Koordinaten seines Platzes auf der grossen Karte, nach der Baselgia seine Installation in der Klosterkirche von Bellelay entworfen hat. Durch die Rahmen wird jedoch jedes Fragment zu einem völlig neuen Terrain; sie schaffen getrennte Mikrokosmen mit einer sehr bildhaften, höchst suggestiven Anmutung. In Bezug auf die ursprüngliche Darstellung des amerikanischen Eisenbahnnetzes rufen sie Assoziationen an Verbindung, ebenso wie an Zersplitterung wach, an menschliches Besitzverhalten und eingeschränkte Bewegungsfreiheit – oder gar Gefangenschaft.

Stoffliche und strukturelle Transformationsprozesse bilden die Grundlage für viele Arbeiten des Künstlers, der eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Materialien verwendet und ihre physikalische und chemische Umwandlung beobachtet. Gleich einem Alchemisten vollzieht der Künstler durch die sichtbaren Veränderungen der äusseren Welt, ihrer Materialien und Strukturen auch eine innere, persönliche Transformation, durch die er seinem wahren Selbst und der Art und Weise, wie er in seiner Umwelt leben und mit ihr in Kontakt treten will, näher kommen kann.

Konzepte wie Territorium, natürliche Ressourcen, die Vergänglichkeit der Dinge und der Zyklus von Leben, Tod und Wiedergeburt sind zentrale Bestandteile der Ausstellung und finden sich in der Arbeitsweise des Künstlers wieder. In der Beobachtung und Neudefinition der Prozesse und Strukturen, die unsere Welt prägen und die essentielle Verflechtung der Menschen und ihres Tuns mit dem Rest der umgebenden Natur demonstrieren, sieht Baselgia die Gelegenheit zum persönlichen Wachstum. Aus seinen Werken und Erfahrungen können die Betrachter Anregungen zur Erkundung ihrer inneren Welt und des Lebens im Allgemeinen ziehen.

Mirko Baselgia ist 1982 in Lantsch/Lenz, Schweiz geboren. 2010 absolvierte er seinen Masterabschluss an der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste in Bildende Kunst. Einzelausstellungen (Auswahl): Pardis (Curzoin), Abbatiale de Bellelay, Bellelay, Switzerland (2018); Transmutaziun, Kunst in der Krypta No5, Grossmünster Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland (2017); The pattern which connects, Kunstmuseum Olten, Olten, Switzerland (2014). Gruppenausstellungen: Beehave, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, Switzerland (2018); Formen der Natur: Pure Nature Art, Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden-Rot, Germany (2018); Extended Ground, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne, Switzerland (2017); Nach der Natur - Material, Form, Struktur, Museum Sinclair-Haus - Altana Kulturstiftung, Bad Homburg, Germany (2017); Triennale 2017 - Art Contemporain Valais, Martigny, Switzerland (2017).