Centro Botín presents "Partitura" a solo exhibition dedicated to artist Silvia Bächli
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Centro Botín presents "Partitura" a solo exhibition dedicated to artist Silvia Bächli
The exhibition sheds light on both the continuity and the progressive changes that occur in Silvia Bächli's work.

SANTANDER.- Running until 20 October 2024, Centro Botín presents Partitura - an exhibition showcasing recent and new works by Swiss artist Silvia Bächli (born 1956, Baden) in dialogue with earlier drawings. Since the late 1970s, Bächli has committed to drawing as a practice that is deeply dependent and entangled with her body and its movements, both within the domestic sphere and the landscape. Her drawings can be read as traces of sensorial records– a walk on a field, a body that aches, a poem that triggers - and corporeal gestures – the extension of the arm, the strength of the hand or the rhythm of the brushstroke. Bächli says: “Drawings are actions. Lines tell stories. What do these lines do? Where is the beginning of a line, does it touch another line? How does it touch them? Words appear, which ones come to the tongue?”

For this exhibition, Bächli has created a score for the gallery space: a sequence of rhythmic clusters of drawings hung at various heights and intervals which, room after room, accrue meaning in their persistent accumulation. Bächli insistently works with modest and limiting means: white paper of different sizes, qualities and tones marked with Indian ink, charcoal, gouache or pastels. Her process is sequential as the artist draws on sheets from a pile, one after another, arranging constellations of works on her studio wall that are consecutively interrogated, rearranged, rejected, until she discovers something that feels right and surprising.

The exhibition sheds light on both the continuity and the progressive changes that occur in her work: from her black and white nervy body fragments and self-absorbed female figures, to her burnt orange interpretations of the grid structure or her recent expansive coloured surfaces. The exhibition includes Das, Bächli´s installation at the Swiss Pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, as well as a wall installation in collaboration with Eric Hattan.

The exhibition is curated by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, Director of Exhibitions and The Collection at Centro Botín. Muñoz says: “Silvia´s simple and sensual visual propositions depart from her consistent use of the line and the variability of the brushstroke as a basis for expression, resulting in wall compositions that seem to agency: to breathe, move, rest, or shout. They embody Silvia´s exquisite acts of care and attention when she engages with her surroundings, elevating every small and mundane gesture. It has been an honour and a joy to accompany Silvia in the process of crafting this expansive exhibition, to think with her about the show´s rhythm, textures, melody and how our visitors will immerse themselves in the “partitura” (score) she has created for Centro Botín”.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are faced by a doorframe crowned by your colour fields – horizontal or vertical compositions of solid-coloured surfaces followed by a selection of nervy figures and fragments from the early 80s combined with recent works. From here visitors walk through Tische (Tables) (1983-2017), an arrangement of figurative and abstract drawings that create various ‘collections’ in flat display tables. In contrast to her wall installations with their rhythmic structures - that remind us of musical scores - in Tische the artist arranges the drawings into technical, formal or thematic “collections” in a non-linear fashion inviting us to find sequences and follow trails and suggesting an intimate and fragmented experience of perception.

The exhibition continues with a room dedicated to Bächli’s grids, featuring Rotes Zimmer (2011) a series of drawing using acrylic and gouache where the artist performs the multiple interpretations of the basic grid, one of the key structures of 20th Modern Art. In this series the artist varies the brushstroke moving from left to the right and laying a significantly different trail. These drawings are hung on top of each other to create irregular structures that appear to stretch out of the sheet and into the exhibition space.

The exhibition continues with Das (“German pronoun corresponding to “that” or “it”), Bächli’s installation for the Swiss Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, inspired by Inger Christensen, one of the most renowned European poets of the 20th Century and whose poetry was designed to distort language to allow the disclosure of other patterns and other principles of order, such as the organic interconnections of existence. Following from Bachli´s 4-month residency in Iceland, the resulting fragmented and evocative drawings and photographs suggest a filmic view of her perceptions of the landscape. They create an embodied impression of nature, not as something that can be used or exploited, organised or taken in one glance, but as a sensory world where beings become entangled through the senses. Also on display is Farbfeld (Colour Field) (2022-2024), a new body of works on paper measuring 102 by 72cm that began in 2022. Bächli uses gouache paint, a water-soluble material that has a broad spectrum of consistencies, to create coloured surfaces that range from translucent to opaque exploring in this way the fluidity and texture of paint. Through their material modesty, the simplicity of their visual proposition, and their self contained nature, these artworks lead the us into contemplation. Additionally on view, To have a shelf life (2017 - present) is a collaborative installation with Eric Hattan, utilising reclaimed shelves featuring a horizontal black line, arranged like a puzzle in the space, covering the walls. The exhibition’s journey concludes with Lange rote Linien (2022), a composition of drawings with 4 meters long lines painted across that illustrate the speed of movement as well as the direction of the artist’s gaze presented alongside a series of intriguing coloured plaster sculptures resembling figure heads.

Silvia Bächli (Baden, Switzerland, 1956) lives and works in Basel. Her solo exhibitions include Dass eins zum andern wurde. Welches welches ist? at Kunst Museum Winterthur (2024) and Partitura, Centro Botin, Santander (2024). Important solo exhibitions have been dedicated to her including Museum Langmatt, Baden, Switzerland (2023); Weserburg Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen, Germany (2022), Fidelidade Arte, Lisbona (2021) and Culturgest, Porto (2021); Fondation espace écureuil, Printemps de septembre, Toulouse (2021), Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (2019); Centre culturel suisse, Paris (2017, with Eric Hattan); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2014); Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2012).

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