The works of Yves Netzhammer (b. 1970), who lives and works in Zurich, have their origins in the digital space — which, for the artist, is closely related to the space of his own imagination. The internationally renowned Swiss artist’s drawings and animated films explore the boundaries, points of contact and transitions between subjective consciousness and the world, between real and virtual levels. The figures and scenarios that he draws using a computer mouse, or that he implements in 3D computer animation programs, revolve around hybrid creatures and fusions of disparate elements. They seem to have originated from a surreally enigmatic yet intuitively accessible matrix that also involves a continual alteration of shapes and contexts — a “transformational permutation” that at the same time allows reflections on our present-day existence.

The Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich frequently presents exhibition projects that are set on the interface with the disciplines taught at the ETH. In this light, a collaboration emerged between Yves Netzhammer and the internationally renowned Chair of Architecture and Digital Fabrication, Gramazio Kohler Research (http://gramaziokohler.arch.ethz.ch/), at the Department of Architecture. The initiated exchange showed quickly that the topic of the thread would play a central role in the joint project. On the one hand, the material is repeatedly found in the artist’s pictorial worlds, on the other hand the architects Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler also use networks of string, yarn, or fibre in their research. This is where the thread can literally be picked up: the digitally drawn structure of lines is to undergo an expansion into space. The plan is to create a large-scale spatial installation with robots that have been developed for the digital fabrication in architecture at the ETH. These devices are to have newly added functions and are to be adapted to meet additional requirements. While one device will lay threads following drawings by Yves Netzhammer, the other will construct a netting structure, determined by equilibrium, made of threads hanging in the space. In a repetitive process of erected, collapsing and rebuilt structures, shapes calculated by the machine will be placed alongside creations based on human inspiration — addressing the fragile relationship between man and machine.

Curator: Alexandra Barcal, Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich

Can anyone fail to notice her? — the large Dominique who greets visitors to the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich with her gentle smile. The astounding portrait hanging in the corridor leading to the exhibition hall is captivating, with its inner radiance and immense sense of presence, holding the viewer suspended between fascination and bewilderment. When Franz Gertsch (b. 1930) started working on the woodcut in 1988, he was unable to decide for a long time on whether or not to use a landscape motif instead.

In addition to his portraits — which in the meantime have become icons of Swiss art — the great Swiss artist is also renowned today for his enchanting landscapes. However, his early work is less familiar to the general public. This is precisely the phase of Gertsch’s extensive oeuvre on which the presentation planned in honour of his ninetieth birthday will be focusing. In parallel with the exhibition being held at the Franz Gertsch Museum in Burgdorf (“Zeitgeist Images: Franz Gertsch’s Works of the 1970s”, 21 March – 16 August 2020), the selection presented here will provide an insight into Gertsch’s early work, from a period when he was also creating romantic-seeming drawings in addition to delicate woodcuts. Individual groups of topics from his collection and from the ETH’s collection’s own holdings have been selected in collaboration with the artist. The survey will be rounded off with colour samples — affectionately termed “études (de) couleurs” by the artist — that are produced during the complex process of printing his incomparable monochrome worlds. A catalogue is planned for the exhibition.

Curators: Dr. Linda Schädler and Alexandra Barcal, Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich