Remember those dish sets your parents would use only for special occasions? Well, June in Switzerland is that occasion for the art world. As the tables are being set in the halls of Messe Basel, galleries throughout the country are putting their most cherished crockery on display as well. On the menu: Strong solo shows by established and emerging painters, promising group shows, and a requiem of sorts.

Not too far from Messeplatz, swing by these shows for a visual apéro riche in Basel.

Marina Adams
‘To a World Full of Others’
von Bartha
June 11 – July 27, 2024

The American painter Marina Adams may well be carrying the torch of Concrete abstraction into the future. On view at von Bartha are a series of vibrant large-scale paintings with forms and patterns loosely inspired by Moroccan rugs or the Moorish tiles found in the Alhambra palace in Granada. The artist’s paintings appear boiled down to the essentials, allowing space for a sensual experience of form and color, and offering visual respites from everyday hecticness. 

Sarah Lucas
‘Bunny Rabbit’
Contemporary Fine Arts

June 11 – July 27, 2024

It has been a while since Sarah Lucas had a solo show in Switzerland (her last one was at Kunsthalle Zürich in 2005, to be exact), but Contemporary Fine Arts is about to change that. The gallery has turned its new Basel space over to the British artist, who is installing the show’s titular BUNNY RABBIT (2022) sculpture on a rotating platform visible through the front window. Inside, Lucas uses her photographic wallpapers Supersensible (1995), a black-and-white street scene, and STOOKS (2023), which shows the artist sat in the English countryside, as backdrops for further sculptures, all of which deal with self-expression, gender, and object relations. Yes, there are breasts, and yes, they are glorious.

‘Here and There and Back Again, Japanese Art 1964 – 2024’
Nicolas Krupp
Through June 29, 2024

Bringing together 11 artists who were born in Japan and either traveled, lived, or exhibited abroad, this exhibition asks what it means to straddle local and global contexts. With this in mind, the show’s curator, Anne Mosseri-Marlio, has put together an overview of the diverse mediums and styles found in Japanese art from the early 1960s to the present. Historic works, including those by the late Tsuruko Yamazaki and Minoru Onoda – both of whom were part of the influential Gutai Art Association – are paired with pieces by artists from a younger generation, such as Kohei Yamada and Ataru Sato.

Next, head over to Geneva for two special appetizers.

Delphine Reist
galerie lange + pult

Through June 29, 2024

Following her brilliant show at Basel’s Museum Tinguely, which closed in January, Delphine Reist returns to the spotlight with a show at galerie lange + pult’s outpost in Geneva. Her works are shapeshifters of sorts, taking the form of environments, sculptures, sound pieces, or automatic paintings. To explore our contemporary engineered environment, Reist alters functional items so they appear precarious and humorously – or dangerously – flawed and faulty. COLLIER (2014–2020) is a case in point: a chain of linked car tires, leaning against the gallery wall like a gargantuan piece of jewelry.

Leanne Picthall
‘I Forgot I’m not Twelve Anymore’
Through June 29, 2024

Capturing the emotional ambivalence of Generation Z, the 25-year-old artist Leanne Picthall astutely transcribes microscopic woes and all-encompassing feelings of weltschmerz in meticulously executed paintings. Earlier this year, a group show at CAN Centre d’art Neuchâtel included Picthall’s scrutinizing self-portraits, such as Unflattering Crying Picture (2023). Her newer works look like cropped snapshots and offer glimpses of a beloved dog, cows (lest anyone forget we are in Switzerland), and everyday arrangements. It is all about internal conflicts; agonized over and visualized.

Zurich Art Weekend offers the visual equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet at an upscale hotel, making it the perfect destination for your main course.

Grace Schwindt
‘When She Moves’
Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Rämistrasse
June 7 – July 26, 2024

Known primarily as a sculptor and performance artist, Grace Schwindt has created large-scale stage-like sets with theatrical twists. For her debut show at Galerie Peter Kilchmann on Rämistrasse, Schwindt presents several smaller sculptures revolving around themes of floral and human forms. With a height of approximately 50 centimeters, the patinated bronze piece Becoming a Flower (2024) is Schwindt’s take on the fabled Daphne, with two human legs swirling into a vegetal shape above. Also worth a stop is Didier William’s show ‘Fire Flight’ at the gallery’s space on Zahnradstrasse, where 12 new paintings deal with questions of home, diasporic identity, and constructions of Black identity.

Galerie Francesca Pia
June 7
August 23, 2024

Curated by Anne Pontégnie, curator-at-large for Le Consortium in Dijon and curator for the Cranford Collection in London, this group show brings together 17 female artists who have expanded traditional art forms and practices. An overall heterogeneous group, the show includes artists from the gallery’s roster as well as those who have never exhibited in Switzerland before. Expect to encounter works by Sturtevant, who encapsulates the act of repetition like no other; the recently rediscovered Pati Hill, who created art using a photocopier; and Sherrie Levine, whose works provoke questions of authenticity.

Have you ever heard the German saying that after eating, one should either rest or take a thousand steps? Well, head over to Zuoz in the Upper Engadin for a bit of dessert.

Markus Raetz
Monica de Cardenas
Through July 13, 2024

Presenting a selection of sculptures and drawings by the late Swiss artist Markus Raetz, this show follows on the heels of a large-scale retrospective at Kunstmuseum Bern. Raetz perfected the art of holding the viewer’s attention by creating sculptures that change their form and meaning depending on one’s point of view. One sculpture shows the outline of a head that turns upside down when viewed from a different angle (Kopfdraht, 1991/2006), ‘NON’ becomes ‘OUI’ (Oui-Non, 1996/2000), and twigs dangling from the ceiling take on the form of a female silhouette (Gestalt, 1995). As an artist, Raetz might be as Swiss as they get, straightforward and almost didactic at times, yet also full of whimsical wit – as long as you look hard enough.

Credits and Captions

Rebecka Domig is an art historian, writer, and curator at Kornhausforum, Bern.

Caption of top image: Sarah Lucas, TIT TOM 1 (detail), 2023. Courtesy of the artist, Contemporary Fine Arts, and Sadie Coles HQ. © Sarah Lucas

Published on June 6, 2024.