Caro Niederer: Slowed Down / Barbara Seiler Gallery, Zürich

The exhibition titled ‘Slowed Down’ at Barbara Seiler in Zürich (Switzerland) is the first solo exhibition at the gallery by Swiss artist Caro Niederer. Caro Niederer (*1963 in Zurich, Switzerland) is a contemporary conceptual artist, currently living and working in Zurich. Her work engages with themes such as the contextual malleability of images throughout the arts and media, and the creative relationship between art and everyday life. Niederer’s work is multi-medial, incorporating various artistic and artisanal techniques such as painting, photography, video, hand-knotted Chinese silk carpets, furniture, porcelain, glasswork, tapestry and multiples.

In contrast to Niederer’s retrospective ‘Good Life Ceramics’ at Kunstmuseum St.Gallen (2017/2018), which changed continuously over the exhibition period and which included a restaurant and bar made entirely of furniture, ceramics and fabrics created by the artist, ‘Slowed Down’ is an exhibition focused entirely on paintings. The exhibition runs until 17 July, 2021.

Caro Niederer: Slowed Down / Barbara Seiler Gallery. Zürich (Switzerland), June 11, 2021.

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Exhibition text (excerpt):

Upon entering the gallery space one is received by a vibrant color burst of oranges, yellows, pinks, deep blues and soft greens in all their hues. A nearly wall high painting of an Interieur, a dark room with two day beds covered with a summer blanket and jewelry, a painting on the wall and a window looking into the dark blue of the night, is followed by a still life in bright yellow presenting a bouquet of red flowers in a soft green vase, green glasses on what is just hinted as a table, and a side board with lamp in warm orange in the background. A smaller painting shows a typical scene from a gallery opening: two men in winter coats, carrying a briefcase and obviously coming from work, studying one of the exhibits. Like the interieur and the still life, this painting grants an intimate glance into an everyday, yet very personal situation. Niederer uses her own archive of personal photographs, often shot quickly and coincidentally of situations from her private life and immediate environment, similar to a diary or an instagram account.

Another group of works depict scenes from a hot summer day in the city and breezy afternoons at the beach with the skyline of Tel Aviv in the background. Children playing in a royal blue pool in front of a sleek building with enormous, reflecting windows are contrasted by flagstones in bright, warm yellow surrounding the pool. The geometric structure of tiles, pool and building allude to abstract expressionism while some of the children at the pool are painted as silhouettes. Niederer’s focal point switches between extreme close-up and wide-angle views. Often caught in a zone between extreme physical precision and optical ambiguity, Niederer’s work triggers not only curiosity but the beauty of refined complexity.

The paintings, which all date from 2020/2021, are complemented by a series of small paintings on canvas board with massive gold frames. Installed in varying heights next some of the large paintings they function almost like an extension into the physical space. A small painting of a starry night sky next to the tall interieur painting opens the view into the exterieur, or a small painting of two deers on a purple background serves as extension of the silhouettes of the playing children at the pool. Niederer had these gold frames made by local framers in Cairo on the occasion of a residency in Egypt and a solo exhibition at Cairo Club, Cairo in the early Nineties. Like the photographs from a family visit to Tel Aviv which served as source for the summer and beach scenes in her new paintings, these frames are a personal souvenir and a glance into the artist’s life.

Two benches in warm, sunny orange invite the viewer to sit down and contemplate with the paintings. They can be seen as an encouragement to slow down, much as what the artist had been confronted with during the creation of this new body of works in the time of the pandemic.

Niederer counts among the most prominent Swiss female artists. Her work has been exhibited widely in major institutions and galleries nationwide and abroad. Recent institutional exhibitions include Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2017/2018), CAC Malaga (2006), Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld (2006), Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2005), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2005) and Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2004).

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