Nara Roesler São Paulo is pleased to present A vida é um detalhe [Life is a detail], Not Vital's second solo exhibition at the gallery, in which the renowned Swiss artist, known for his nomadic lifestyle and for building site-specific works around the world, presents his recent production in sculpture, painting, and works on paper. This is the first time Vital presents works developed in his studio in Rio de Janeiro. The show opens to the public on November 26, 2022 and will be on view through January 21, 2023.
One can say that Not Vital's work emerges from encounters, which in other words, can be understood as emerging from movement. His own mobility is an important variable in Vital's ability to transform, decontextualize, reconfigure, and relocate cultural fragments and their symbols: Vital was born in 1948 in Sent, a small mountain village in Switzerland's Engadin valley. At the age of 18, he moved to Paris, then to Rome, and then to New York in 1976. Since then, the artist has been traveling uninterruptedly to all corners of the world, working and living periodically in Agadez, Niger, Lucca, Italy, Beijing, China, Patagonia, Chile, and Rio de Janeiro, as well as spending time in his hometown.
Vital is interested in difference, observed not from a distanced ethnographic point of view, but from the interaction established with communities, from the exchanges and the affections developed in each place. Several bodies of work were developed through his nomadic lifestyle, ranging from sculptures to works on paper, which correspond to or emerge from his itinerant experience. Thus, the present exhibition brings together works that originate from his most recent experience in Brazil.
In this solo presentation, Vital presents two stone sculptures that derive from his well-known Houses to Watch the Sunset. Since 2005, Vital has been building these "houses" that originate from the encounter between sculpture and architecture, or SCARCH, a word in the artist's vocabulary that unites sculpture and architecture. SCARCHs have been created in several models and scales, built in different materials, and installed in different places around the world, such as Niger, the Sahara Desert, Chilean Patagonia, and the Amazon, besides a permanent installation at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, in Denmark, amongst others. More recently, Not Vital built a version of his Houses for watching the sunset inside the Abbazia of San Giorgio Maggiore, as part of the program of the International Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2021.
The exhibition also features older sculptures brought over from Switzerland, such as Double Lotus (2010), made of stainless steel and measuring more than four meters tall. In these sculptures, the natural and artificial universes converge in a creation that takes plant and animal elements as inspiration, as is characteristic of Vital’s practice. Examples of the Lotus series have already been exhibited in several of the artist's solo and group shows. This series in particular, was part of his first major exhibition in the United Kingdom, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2016, in which Vital created a trail with one hundred sculptures that make up the installation Let One Hundred Flowers Bloom (2008).
The show also includes a series of portraits, centered on the face, that were developed from encounters during his most recent stay in Rio de Janeiro, as well as a set of self-portraits that derive from his ongoing effort at self-presentation, which the artist defines as "something so complicated that it could be a lifelong project." These images, however, do not aim to be a faithful representation of the portrayed, but rather seek to reveal what is intimate, that which demands attention and concentration to be seen.
The last group of works, titled Ice Paintings, develops from the desire to portray the landscape experienced as a child in Engadina, where Vital grew up in an atmosphere of contemplative silence, so different from the atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro, where these works were conceived. "In my land, half the year has four meters of snow and the eyes become sensitive to light. If I had been born in Brazil or India, my work would be much more colorful."
Not Vital's practice articulates dichotomous concepts, such as dark and light, black and white, day and night, hot and cold, organic and inorganic, nature and culture, sculpture and architecture. A vida é um detalhe is an invitation to observe dualities not through the gaze of dichotomous antagonism, but through the understanding of otherness as allowing the coexistence of differences.