not vital
house to watch the sunset, 2018
tarasp, switzerland

Not Vital is best known for having developed a practice that is based on intense contact with nature and a nomadic lifestyle. His work seeks to provoke unusual experiences or viewpoints, either by displacing purely natural forms, or by extracting elements from remote regions, and re-contextualizing them into an artistic framework, often altering their scale or materials. Since the beginning of the 1980s, Not Vital has repeatedly collaborated with artisans in an endeavour to intertwine sculpture and the construction of space, frequently diluting the limits between art and architecture, and establishing an intimate relationship with the local cultural context. Indeed, his pieces work to alter our perception of the environment that they inhabit, either through their reflexive physicality or their unusual architectural structure.  

Vital has also produced paintings and works on paper, which converse with the matters he addresses in his sculptures and architectural propositions. For these pieces, the artist employs a varied palette of materials that go from the simple and perishable –coffee, salt, eggs– to the most valuable and resistant –marble, silver and gold. Since the end of the 1990s, Not Vital has erected permanent installations in numerous locations, including Agadez (Niger), Chilean Patagonia (Chile) and Paraná do Mamori (Brazil). In addition, he has also built so-called habitats, such as the House to Watch the Sunset, amongst other schools, bridges or tunnels.

Not Vital was born in 1948 in Sent, Switzerland. He currently lives and works in Sent, Switzerland, Beijing, China and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Recent solo exhibitions include: Not Vital: Scarch, at Hauser & Wirth (2020), in Somerset, United Kingdom; Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom, at Galerie Andrea Caratsch (2019), in St. Mortiz, Switzerland, and at Ateneum (2018), in Helsinki, Finland; Not Vital. Saudade, at Galeria Nara Roesler (2018), in São Paulo, Brazil, and at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2016), in Wakefield, United Kingdom. Recent group exhibitions include: Passion: Bilder von der Jagd, at Bündner Kunstmuseum Chur (2019), in Chur, Switzerland; Surrealism Switzerland, at Aargauer Kunsthaus (2018), in Aarau, Switzerland; Illumination, at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2016), in Humlebæk, Denmark; Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty, at Mori Art Museum, in Tokyo, Japan. His works are part of important institutional collections, such as: Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France; Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi, Japan, amongst others.

Press

  • in pictures - swiss artist vital's first major uk show Download

    in pictures - swiss artist vital's first major uk show

    Jonty Wilde, BBC News 30.5.2016
  • not vital | yorkshire sculpture park Download

    not vital | yorkshire sculpture park

    Bob Chaundy, Huff Post 24.5.2016
  • not vital | yorkshire sculpture park Download

    not vital | yorkshire sculpture park

    Jolyon Webber, CNN Style 24.5.2016
  • the extraordinary and enigmatic swiss artist - not vital in the first major uk exhibition Download

    the extraordinary and enigmatic swiss artist - not vital in the first major uk exhibition

    Ana Moriarty, Wide Walls 18.5.2016
  • swiss artist not vital takes over yorkshire sculpture park Download

    swiss artist not vital takes over yorkshire sculpture park

    Elly Parsons, Wallpaper 6.3.2016
  • galeria nara roesler apresenta trabalhos de not vital pela primeira vez em são paulo Download

    galeria nara roesler apresenta trabalhos de not vital pela primeira vez em são paulo

    SP-arte 1.12.2015
  • artist not vital buys 12th century swiss castle Download

    artist not vital buys 12th century swiss castle

    Henri Neuendorf, ArtNet 15.9.2015
  • inside the many houses of not vital maker of dreamscapes for adults Download

    inside the many houses of not vital maker of dreamscapes for adults

    Andrew O'Hagan, The New York Times T Magazine 18.10.2013

Video

Critical Essays

  • saudade

    giorgia von albertini
    In Not Vital’s universe, symbols and materials travel in high velocity on the metamorphic highways of alchemy. Redefining the possible, Vital presents us with unique artworks that instigate us to acquire new ways of seeing and thinking. Lotus flowers suddenly present themselves clothed entirely in reflective stainless steel. Removed from the mortal realm of the organic, they carry timeless buds that will forever gleam in seclusion. Walking Sticks are abruptly separated from their function by their enlarged size, standing before us like utopian totems. A Tongue turns into an obelisk, and the Moon lands on earth. Animated Land- and Seascapes slowly, yet unequivocally emerge out of marble plates. Portraits of well-known figures such as Oscar Niemeyer materialize in the form of elegant cubic sculptures made out of silver. White bronze trees extend their branches into the altitude. While unavailingly searching for their leaves, we instead encounter agglomerations of letters that together disclose meaning. Drawings, on the other hand, suddenly cease to be two-dimensional, obtaining sculptural qualities by means...