Ways of Seeing Abstraction:
Fabian Marti, Untitled, 2011

Most people still understand abstraction as a concentration on form. It is viewed as an art movement which is used to express aesthetic ideas, orders, philosophical ideas or inner feelings, but which does not have much to do with everyday reality. However, especially in times marked by crises, relevance and urgency are also expected from art, and it is expected to make a statement on current social issues. Today, artistic commitment is not conveyed exclusively through clear visual messages and content, but increasingly through abstraction. For younger generations, in particular, non-representational art is the means of choice for addressing politics, religion, and social issues. Showcasing works from the Deutsche Bank Collection, the exhibition “Ways of Seeing Abstraction” at the PalaisPopulaire undertakes a thoroughly subjective survey of international abstraction from postwar modernism to the recent present, documenting the diversity and discursivity that lie behind the idea of non-objective, “pure” form. On the occasion of the exhibition, our series will show you works by artists who use abstraction idiosyncratically and define it in new ways.


Fabian Marti, Untitled, 2011
© Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich. Photo: Sebastian Schaub


The concentric circles in Fabian Marti's photogram unfold an almost hypnotic effect. They unsettle the eye, seem to move. Like a spiral, they draw the gaze into the depths. Spirals frequently appear in Marti's work as a reference to cosmic spiral nebulae and natural forms such as snail shells. At the same time, spirals turn throughout the history of art and culture: on Stone Age ceramics, in Marcel Duchamp's film Anémic Cinéma (1926), in shimmering 1960s' Op Art paintings, and in countless comics, where they symbolize a loss of control or intoxication. Marti's works succeed in formally restoring the original power of this countlessly reproduced motif.

His entire oeuvre revolves around the expansion of consciousness. Work after work alludes to shamanism, mysticism, and the drug-induced psychedelic experiences of the hippie movement. Additionally, his highly decorative photographic works, ceramics, and installations contain numerous references to formalism, abstraction, and minimalism. Marti combines diverse artistic techniques, working with analog and digital means, with found and his own material. He is akin to an alchemist in whose laboratory seductive works are created as an invitation to take a journey into realms that elude our rational view of the world.