The three artists portrayed illustrate a strong interest in the language and symbols of communication, visually, narratively and conceptually. There is a structuralist and also deconstructivist interest in forms, content and a media cross-over which is often accompanied with a somber, cool and analytical aesthetic, something quite typical in german-speaking part of Switzerland. Educated in Amsterdam, Basel and Zurich and other places abroad, the artists' share a sense of emotional disconnect in connection to their images and working process.
Jan Kiefer is a German artist based in Basel. His conceptual approach to transforming his private and personal space into a sculptural or painterly gesture, let's his experience culminate often in somewhat odd objects, assemblages of boxes, displays or cabinets. General observations as well as his research into old tales and mystic legends are coupled with his impressions drawn from his childhood room, his music past or his own skin colour. His experiences around his daily routines such as walking his dog, working with mentally handicapped people or his passion for cooking, are transformed into weirdly esoteric objects with a patina of self-made/craftsman-like texture.
Mia Marfurt’s objects often undermine the cliché posture they carry or hold, from the symbolic and real value of a EUR coin to the shape a deconstructed piece of furniture should have. Eggs which become eyes or slices of melons that become a modernist sculpture are more ephemeral and seemingly haphazard but the formal approach is always the same, which is the careful dissecting of existing formal structures and re-assembling them to an aesthetically challenging and newly balanced object, her shapes shift size, her forms cut away or suggest new openings and the final pieces are often of grand painterly volume.
Tobias Spichtig is often investigating the many layers of communication, with or without words and how the accompanying images are spreading within our society, from a series of found dog portraits in a car-park tower to his film work which capture unique or ordinary moments in nature or from pop culture, the meaning of the very surface these images hold. From analog to digital, from home to studio finish his works all question the sign and the signifier, one being able to replace the other any moment. A film set lights up a fake fire-place, the sun is setting, the environment is real like any other common object.
Samuel Leuenberger (b. 1974) is working as an Independent curator and runs the non-for-profit exhibition space SALTS, promoting young international artists. He has earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Sotheby’s Institute in London in 1998. He has worked from 1998–2001 at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, from 2001–2004 he was the contemporary art specialist at Christie’s Zürich. From 2004–2007 he was the assistant to the curator at Kunsthalle Zurich and from 2007–2012 he worked as a Collections Advisor with a London based firm.
SALTS supports young international artists to develop unique and exceptional projects which push beyond the artist's daily practise. The private space in Birsfelden is a place for performances, concerts, dinners and events and promotes an interdisciplinary exchange and dialog. Founded in 2009, SALTS is run today by Samuel Leuenberger and hosts regular contributions by Quinn Latimer and Fabian Schöneich.