Caroline Bachmann

Caroline Bachmann

“It’s all about light!”

Jury statement

“At heart, Caroline Bachmann is a conceptual painter, although her images depict landscapes, glances towards the sky, human faces and even walls. A statement that at first glance appears contradictory proves on closer inspection to be a conceptual gaze, but one that commits emotional moments to the rectangular format of the image. The sophistication that leads from theoretical reflection on the image to the image’s emotional presence is what, in the eyes of the jury, earns her this award, especially as her work is also a continuation of art-historical aspects from within the tradition of painting.”

© BAK, Marie-Eve Hildbrand / Terrain Vague, Lausanne

In collaboration with TERRAIN VAGUE
Images: Marie-Eve Hildbrand
Additionel Pictures: Papillon Coasne
Editing: Christine Brunner
Mixing: Jérôme Cuendet
Calibration: Jean-Baptiste Perrin
Translation: Janna Wiprächtiger, Isabelle Plouïdy Ueltschi, Sophie Laessle
Music: Lucie Mauch
Copyright Photography « My day with Caroline & Stefan » Catherine Gailloud Thanks to KMD Association

Caroline Bachmann, *1963 in Lausanne, lives between Cully and Berlin

Caroline Bachmann is a painter. She divides her time between Cully, in the Lavaux region of Switzerland, and Berlin, where she routinely goes to paint several times a year. After graduating from the Academy of Decorative Arts in Geneva in 1988, she lived in Barcelona and then in Rome, returning to Switzerland in 2003. In 2007, she became joint head of the Painting and Drawing Department at the Haute école d’art et de design (HEAD) in Geneva, along with Peter Roesch. There, she and the teaching staff ran a project on the importance of the studio and the ideas of freedom, autonomy and encounter.

Between 2004 and 2014, she worked with Stefan Banz. In 2009, the duo set up the Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp (KMD) in Cully to accompany a symposium on Duchamp and the Forestay Waterfall, a nearby attraction that he photographed during a stay in Switzerland and subsequently included in his work Étant donnés. First and foremost a “conceptual” institution, KMD is also a place for research and publishing, offering artists a venue for exhibitions in a miniature museum with a view of the lake.

In 2013, a painting research project involving Duchamp led her towards a group of early 20th-century artists who were influenced by the American Dadaists. Through her conversation with them, and their precise yet transcendent relationship with nature, she fashioned the synthetic and almost dreamlike pictorial language that characterises her works.

Since then, her studio practice has become very slow and invariably figurative; her primary aim is to deepen, extend and even dilute production time to a degree that she had never attempted before. She taught herself oil painting for the project and works with the malleable, plastic nature of temporality, evolving a new technique of layering and transparency.

She also explores the dimension of weather, in an investigation of the infinite variations of the outdoor environment. Having recorded details of lines, colours, light and temperature outside, she constructs and reconstructs the painting in her studio, revealing the weather (or rather the weather’s impact on her) in terms of form, memory and affects.

She works on a number of paintings at the same time, producing multiple, interconnected temporalities and subjects. For all its rationality, her work is organised according to the customary categories of painting, from landscape to still life. Her views of Lake Geneva and the mountains at night or at dawn are as much homages to the infinite renewal of a local landscape as they are a cosmic celebration of the marriage of the elements. Her portraits of female artists working in Switzerland and abroad, or painters of the past, are located within a tradition but are also a kind of manifesto: the one of a painting that connects places, times and figures. Caroline Bachmann’s painting thus becomes a vehicle conveying us to an unknown location, which may be past, present or future.