The 20th Art Paris Art Fair opens its doors on 4 April 2018. Switzerland is this year's guest of honour, and works by around 100 contemporary Swiss artists will be on display. Among the country's contributions is "Panorama", featuring works from the Helvetia Art Collection. Like the rest of the Swiss presence, it has been curated by Karine Tissot, Director of the Centre d'Art Contemporain d'Yverdon-les-Bains. It offers an overview of the works purchased for the Helvetia Art Collection over the last ten years, and so covers the spectrum of recent Swiss artistic creativity. "Panorama" includes 43 works in a range of media, from painting, drawing, photography and prints to videos and sculptures.
Three different takes on Switzerland
The exhibition is divided into three sections, each merging into the next, each offering its own account of the Swiss landscape. Rather than adopting a historical or scientific approach, it sets up a formal dialogue that draws on both the abstract and the figurative dimensions. "Panorama" thus underscores that a collection of contemporary Swiss art must generally encompass multiple styles, media, formats, techniques and supports.
The first part of the exhibition presents the landscape through the eyes of the graphic artist. At its centre is a large-format work by Adrian Schiess, who combines graded intensities of various hues within a single format. There are also works by Francis Baudevin, Corsin Fontana, Aloïs Godinat and Alex Hanimann.
The Alps as leitmotif – delicate, imperious, idyllic
The second section is romantic. It opens with the topography of the Alps, a leitmotif of Swiss art since the 18th century. The mountains are depicted in widely differing ways: from the delicate watercolours of Michel Grillet to the irrepressible installation by the youthful Christopher Füllemann, and the expressive brushwork of Conrad Jon Godly to the virtual composition by Monica Studer and Christoph van den Berg.
In the final section, the curator offers up a horizon essentially reduced to two colours – black and white – reflecting the importance of drawing in Swiss art of recent years, and in particular the use of line in varying means of expression. Hadrien Dussoix's spray paint on canvas appears alongside traces of animal skins by Michael Günzburger and the two- and three-dimensional works of Franziska Furter. The ingenuity of Bernard Voïta meets the DIY aesthetic of Augustin Rebetez, leading up to the explosive culmination that is Hanspeter Hofmann.
A wide-ranging commitment to art
The Helvetia Art Collection comprises more than 1,700 works of contemporary Swiss art by over 400 artists, and traces its origins back to the 1940s. As such, it is one of the most important collections of its kind. In addition to collecting art, Helvetia also presents an Art Prize to promote the work of young artists and is supporting digitisation projects at four Swiss museums. The company is also a major art insurer, occupying the no. 1 spot in its home market of Switzerland as well as attractive niche positions in France, Belgium, Germany and Spain that it is looking to expand. Helvetia has a sales office in Miami serving Central and South America, as well as branches in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for the Asian market.