Multi-disciplinary Artist Rolf Sachs Debuts Exhibition ‘Tenderly’
Presenting A New Exploration Of His Photography Oeuvre.
Coinciding with the Lake Como Design Festival, the exhibition marks Sachs' first solo show in Italy, exploring the depths of human experience through photography, where movement and stillness coexist.
On view through October 21, 2023
For his inaugural exhibition in Italy, artist Rolf Sachs presents ‘Tenderly,’ unveiling new large-scale photographs from his Moving Stills series presented by Grieder Contemporary, Zürich. On view through October 21, 2023, the exhibition marks the gallery’s opening show at Borgovico33, a historic 17th century church in Como, Italy as part of its Autumn satellite program.
The exhibition encapsulates much of Sachs’ enduring artistic interests in materiality and recontextualizing domestic objects, all the while announcing a new departure in his photographic work. Within the Moving Stills series, Tenderly, Threads and Triangle are all examples of the way the artist transforms everyday objects such as pieces of string, a percussion instrument, and a roll of toilet paper, into lively and ambiguous beings, revealing their mysterious alter ego. The resulting works are at times eery and uncanny, verging on the surreal.
The exhibition features 16 works and is conceived in two parts. Five full-scale photographs from the artist’s Tenderly series are shown inside the frescoed nave of the historic deconsecrated church of the Convent of Santa Caterina. This feels particularly apt as these abstract photographs, ripe with cross-like motifs, can be interpreted as secular altarpieces. A selection of more intimately scaled works from his Triangle and Threads series will be shown in the adjoining vaulted, minimalist space. Now a cultural association dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art events, the exhibition is housed in a space with a diverse history. From being a diocesan seminary, deconsecrated and converted into a military barracks to becoming a cotton mill, a grocer’s warehouse and ultimately abandoned, Borgovico33 celebrates its past after a fruitful renovation in 2002 with contemporary art exhibitions.
As often in the artist’s work, the exhibition’s title, ‘Tenderly’ has a double entendre. It expresses Sachs’ overarching artistic interest in making ‘arts emotionnels instead of arts decoratifs’ which invite an empathetic and sensual approach to art and our rapport with one another, while also being the name of a toilet paper brand. The title, therefore, relates to the artist’s desire to experiment with the archetype of the natura morta in this series. ‘Moving’ on the other hand refers to the gesture that the artist makes with his camera, wielding it like a paintbrush and freezing the movement with a single flash. The result blurs the distinction between abstract painting and photography. Injecting movement in the photographic process is one of Rolf’s distinctive gestures which he first experimented with in his Camera in Motion series (2013), where the Engadin landscape was captured from a moving train.
The works in this exhibition are a crystallization of much of Rolf Sachs’ artistic curiosities and illustrate his interest in injecting a soul into lifeless objects that are traditionally disregarded or imperceptible. Keen on incorporating chance and haphazardness in the way he uses his light sources and moves his camera, resulting in unusual visual effects, Sachs finds a certain freedom in letting things fall under the agency of chance, finding the perfect balance between ‘faire et laisser faire’. The artist often plays with antithetical notions in his titles, and in this series, the friction between movement and stillness harks back to his enduring interest in creating a compelling tension between different concepts or materials. Throughout his oeuvre, Sachs has been drawn to the harmony that can be created when two materials or ideas that do not traditionally go together are coupled in a way that creates a sort of alchemy.
‘Tenderly is a poetic and personal show. It’s a pure expression of the fact that I genuinely believe that our personal perception and attitude completely govern how we end up seeing the world. If you channel your creative soul, you can add spirit to situations, positively influence people’s attitudes, or even add unexpected poetry and emotions to banal everyday objects. I made these works at a time when connection and proximity were scarce. With Moving Stills, I hope to move people,’ explains Rolf Sachs.