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Important Swiss artist Markus Raetz exhibits his works of art at Musée Jenisch Vevey
Ein Auto und einige Menschen au der Strasse

VEVEY.- To celebrate summer, the Musée Jenisch Vevey welcomes Markus Raetz (b. 1941), one of the most fascinating Swiss artists of his generation. Comprising more than 150 works from every period of the Bernese artist’s career, the exhibition SEE-SAW invites audiences to explore an exuberant world in which chance is mixed with surprise, as well as a generous measure of poetry.

For this retrospective the Musée Jenisch Vevey, which is home to the cantonal prints collection, is focusing on Markus Raetz’s passion for engraving and his insatiable curiosity about the various techniques of printmaking. Dating from his childhood, his earliest prints bear witness to an appetite for multiplying and reversing motifs that is as strong now as it ever was. What appears to be a single image turns out to conceal others; it is transformed and revealed afresh as it is viewed in different ways. Playing on the resonances between printing, sculpture and drawing, the exhibition emphasises the transitions from one medium to the other, demonstrating how the shifts from sketchbook to print and sculpture enhance the work’s semantic richness.

Organised in association with the Kunstmuseum Bern, the exhibition is accompanied by an expanded edition of the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s prints, produced by Rainer Michael Mason.

Bringing together the artist’s notebooks, engravings and sculptures, the exhibition SEE-SAW focuses on Markus Raetz’s creative process, from the genesis of the idea through to the finished work. The sketchbooks, which are on show, record the first occurrences of a motif: “Very often that’s the way it is, I draw things that go through my mind without thinking about the end result. That’s when the ideas well up, and it’s not until later that I decide whether something will be realised as a sculpture or an engraving.” The subject then takes the form of a print or a sculpture – or sometimes both.

The diversity of printing techniques employed reflects Markus Raetz’s interest in engraving and his insatiable curiosity about the medium. This fascination has its roots in times spent with his grandfather, a cabinet maker, when Raetz was 5 or 6 years old. In the tiny studio in the Bernese Oberland, the young Markus closely observes the old man at work and, through his magnifying glass, discovers for the first time the raster of stamps and banknotes. He is instantly captivated by the appearance of these networks of lines and the overlaying of colours. Created shortly afterwards, his earliest prints reflect an appetite for multiplying and reversing motifs that is as strong now as it ever was: what appears to be a single image turns out to conceal others; it is transformed and revealed afresh as it is viewed in different ways.

In the engraving studio the artist slips into the role of alchemist, seeking the best way of bringing his idea to fruition through dialogue with the printer. The element of chance inherent in this method of printmaking plays a key role in the creative process. Markus Raetz constantly tests the limits of the medium, playfully exploring the techniques of printmaking. This freedom prompts him to experiment with highly unusual processes, from printing with string or using a typewriter to photocopying.

As its title suggests, the exhibition revolves around the theme of vision and perception. Exploring the frontiers between dream and reality, the movement from one to the other lends substance to the work. What soon becomes clear is the impossibility of appreciating the full richness of the works without moving through space. As they move around the sculptures and examine them from varying distances, visitors will see that the works of Markus Raetz have a double meaning; that each image invariably contains another. We are reminded that there is more than one way of seeing things, and that multiple viewing angles have the power to enrich perception.

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