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Enchanting chameleon colours at the Helvetia Art Foyer

The «Chameleon» exhibition at the Helvetia Art Foyer is showcasing a selection of large-format paintings and smaller works on paper by the artist Giacomo Santiago Rogado until 19 November 2020. The exhibition title is ideally suited to the works on display and is just as apt for the Swiss artist himself, his techniques, visions and ideals.

16 September 2020, text: Mirjam Arnold, photo: Viktor Kolibàl

Impressions from the current «Chameleon» exhibition
Impressions from the current «Chameleon» exhibition

The fact that the current exhibition at the Helvetia Art Foyer bears the name «Chameleon» is by no means a leap in the dark, even though the animal itself is not directly depicted in any of the paintings. The Swiss artist Giacomo Santiago Rogado is fascinated by chameleons, which are among the oldest reptiles on earth. Known for their camouflage skills and 360-degree vision, they experience the world on a scale we can hardly imagine. «For some reason, chameleons and their characteristics [...] are very close to my heart and my work,» says the artist, who was born in Lucerne and is very comfortable with plays of colour, artistic effects and optical illusions.

Colour artists

Chameleons are colour artists – and Giacomo Santiago Rogado is at least as deserving of this title. Plays of colour are very much present in his paintings, for example, in «Intuition 12» (2014), «Spirit 2» (2015) and «Formación» (2019). The winner of the Swiss Art Award does not have a favourite colour. «Colours are like feelings, they come and go and can be impossible to control and surprising – just like chameleons. I love all colours and could never opt for just one.» The artist loves to experiment and enjoys the endless possibilities and new combinations that arise as he works.

Ideas surface during the creative process

The artist enjoys trying out new techniques. All the works which are currently being exhibited at the Helvetia Art Foyer are the result of mixing techniques. Experimentation is part and parcel of his work process. New ideas occur to Giacomo Santiago Rogado as he works, uses colours and plays around with various techniques. Earlier works by the Swiss artist – who currently lives in Berlin – have been characterised by geometric arrangements. As he developed as an artist, he started to move away from this style and the colours began to flow more freely in a less controlled way. However, the different techniques in his works always balance each other out.

A dialogue between the works

With all its corners, windows, passageways, pillars and slanted walls, the Helvetia Art Foyer is a challenging exhibition space. «I truly embraced the challenge posed by these aspects. I wanted to introduce peace into the space with a few, carefully selected works and to allow visitors to focus their eyes intently on the art. A dialogue occurs between the four large-format works I've selected and a new space is opened up between them. In contrast, the series of works on paper perhaps creates a more intimate feel due to the small format and the fact that these are sketches,» says Giacomo Santiago Rogado, explaining how the exhibition was set up.

Key dates for the «Chameleon» exhibition

20 August to 19 November 2020
Every Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Additional opening times

Kunsttage Basel: Thursday 17 & Friday 18 September 2020, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Art and Meditation with Amanda Haas: Friday 18 September 2020, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Conversation with Giacomo Santiago Rogado: Friday 18 September 2020, 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Helvetia Art Foyer, Steinengraben 25, CH-4051 Basel
free entry

Commitment to art

The Helvetia Art Foyer is part of the company’s support for art. Artworks from Helvetia’s own collection are presented to a wide-ranging audience in monographic, dialogic and thematic exhibitions. The approximately 1,800 works by around 400 artists owned by the multinational insurance group count as one of the most important collections of contemporary Swiss art. Artists also have the opportunity to showcase their work to a wide audience in the Art Foyer. Three or four exhibitions are staged here each year. Helvetia, which also insures artworks, supports the art world in a variety of ways. These include the Helvetia Art Prize aimed at young artists starting out in their careers, and digitalization projects at selected Swiss museums.