Nietzsche's Moustache, 2003, hydrocal, 73 x 143 x 35 cm

Not Vital »Milla larmas id ün chamel«

Berlin, April 24, 2004 - June 05, 2004

Galerie Nordenhake has the pleasure to present the Swiss artist Not Vital in his first solo exhibition with us in Berlin. Vital's art is to a large extent characterised by a presence of opposites. Well known is his juxtaposition of materials, such as gold, marble, and glass, with their firm roots in art history, with unexpected items of organic provenience, such as dung or dried carcasses of animals.

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Other polarities informing his imagery are his distinctive mix of figurative elements with abstractions, or how the general ambiance of his works seems to be destabilised by an unsure line of demarcation between utmost sincerity and outright humour. One point of access to Vital's art is however his strong relation to the place-the topos. His works are "topological" in the sense that the locality where they have been made always seems to govern his choice of medium, content and execution-and since his field of operation stretches over a large part of the globe, including New York, Italy, Niger, and his native canton of Graubünden, his art takes on a distinctly nomadic character. For this exhibition Vital has brought together three new works under the Rhaeto-Romanic title "Milla larmas id ün chamel" ("a thousand tears and one camel").

With 1000 Tears, 2003, the visitor finds himself faced with a rectangular block out of Carrara marble. At one side of the stone, a thousand tears have marked it as if raindrops falling on water, on the other side, the stone apparently is left in its original state. The exquisite finish of the white stone gives the piece an ephemeral quality - as if the material was consisting of melting ice or brittle chalk. Vital is widely known for works incorporating the remnants of animals.

His Camel, 2003, is laid out as an installation of 15 balls of terracotta encapsulating the dismembered pieces of an entire dead camel. Vital's fascination in camels started after a trip to Egypt in 1998, and since then this animal has taken on an increasing multilayered function in his art. Here does content, as well as form join with an understanding of the camel as a cultural fragment, representing transport and communication in large parts of the world.

The third piece in the exhibition is Nietzsche's Moustache, 2003. Friedrich Nietzsche's summerhouse in Sils Maria, where he wrote the second part of Zarathustra, Jenseits von Gut und Böse, and Zur Genealogie der Moral, is located not very far from where Vital was born. Executed in plaster, this wall-object shaped as a colossal moustache (Nietzsche's 'trademark'), recalling Hans Olde's famous drawing from 1899, constitutes an ironic counterpoint to the other sculptures.

Camel, 2003, 15 ceramic balls containing dried parts of a camel carcass, each Ø 40 cm

Installation view

Installation view

1000 Tears, 2004, marble, 95.5 x 35.5 cm