GEBASTELTE UTOPIAS

The American painter Agnes Martin once wrote, "Making and looking at art is about finding something out about who you are. Someone once told me that my paintings made them feel happy, like waking up in the morning. The goal of life is to be happy, isn’t it?"

Born in Zug, Switzerland, after finishing an education in graphic design in the early 1990’s, Nicoletta West left for New York. She would spend the next 9 years there, studying and making art and observing the developments of its vibrant art scene first hand. She studied at the Empire State College, working in studio spaces on the Lower East Side, as well as the New York Studio School on 8th Street. There, possibly in reaction to the heavy figurative nature of the program, she stopped painting and started making objects; not building or assembling, but putting materials together in a way that can only be described as "Basteln" or crafting. She later received a Masters of Fine Arts Degree from Rutgers University, attending some classes with conceptual artist Martha Rosler. Gallery exhibitions by freewheeling artists such as Kiki Smith and Jessica Stockholder made an impression.
She returned to Europe in 2000, attended a three-month residency grant in Berlin that she received from the Canton of Zug and then established a studio in Zurich and continued to exhibit regularly.

The critical theorist Hal Foster has written about the advent of spread-out "horizontal composition" in Installation Art and Performance in the 1960’s, as an expression of dissatisfaction for the "masculine" vertical oriented concerns of Modernism. The discourse about "High" and "Low" that erupted in the late 80’s and early 90’s was a dominant theme in New York, as well as the "Woman’s Work" movement. Primarily in sculpture and Installation Art, this addressed Gender issues and attempted to subvert traditional craft or "Basteln" activities attributed to woman, such as the use of textiles, embroidery, knitting, glueing and pasting.
Ambitious artists work by creating a mix of the perceived historical situation and their own individual talent and personality. West’s project is significant as it is simultaneously aware and divergent.

Much work that addresses so called "Gender" issues can be thematically unsettling. Having spent many years in New York attending exhibitions, I am conditioned to seeing turmoil in art, and hence am often at a loss when its not there. Visiting Nicoletta at work, watching her build her "plant" sculptures made from spaghetti, cutting self adhesive shelf-protecting sheets and lovingly arranging found crafty baskets, is a sight that does not evoke "Angst". She works with an extremely light touch and her chosen theme of "Home" becomes a sign for paradise. For all of her diverse use of materials, her work emanates an unfashionable and timeless romantic sense of longing. There is a persistent girlish belief in the restorative power of the sanctuaries she builds. Nowadays, I find this to be quite a comforting idea.

It has been said in critical circles, if something is not painting, drawing, photography or video, its sculpture. I find it curious that sculpture is listed at the end of the list. Today many thought provoking artists are working in the third dimension; in this, the sincerest of all the arts.

West is clearly a sculptor who is determined to push the limits of the form. The materials she chooses are things found around the house, or plundered from the kids arts and craft storage bins or, as she is fond of saying: "Things anybody knows how to use". In her installations the domestic environment and art studio seamlessly merge into ideal and protected follies. She lovingly selects materials for qualities of quirkiness, ephemerality, fragileness and mutability. These cheap materials have associations of safety, domesticity, play, fecundity and euphoria. All is done with the utmost sense of seriousness and urgency.

The poet Wallace Stevens called fiction "The Necessary Angel". With unbearably light materials, West creates fictive oasis-like homes. They are unified harmonious worlds, containing a plurality of diverse expressions that co-exist in curious harmony including: orgiastic racetracks, island sanctuaries, yarn-ball flowers, photos of embracing pairs, fantastic pasta plants, hearts, day-glow stickers, rainbows, sunsets, dolphins, drawing and sound. One is invited to insert oneself into these worlds and would happily do so. Still better, they can be packed up easily and transported at will; like fold-up utopias.

Nicholas Micros. Artist
Lives and works in New York City and Ottenbach, Switzerland

NICOLETTA WEST

nicowest@bluewin.ch
Lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland with her family, a cat and soon to come: three rabbits.

EDUCATION

1996 - 1998 Rutgers University. Mason Gross School of the Arts.
New Brunswick, NJ. USA
Master of Fine Arts ( MFA - Sculpture )
1994 - 1996 State University of New York. New York, NY. USA
Bachelor of Arts ( BA - Painting )
1993 - 1994 State University of New York. New York, NY. USA.
Independent Study Program
1991 - 1993 New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.
New York, NY. USA
1988 - 1991 HdKL Schule für Visuelle Gestaltung. Lucerne, Switzerland.
Diploma in Graphic Design

SELECTION OF EXHIBITIONS

Kunsthalle Vebikus. Jubiläumsausstellung. Schaffhausen. 2015
Chamber of Fine Arts. Operationes spirituales: "A semi-scientific kind of reverie". Zurich. 2012
Supermarket Art Fair. Art on Armitage. Stockholm. 2011
Forum Vebikus Kammgarn. Jubiläumsausstellung. Schaffhausen. 2010/11
Galerie Luciano Fasciati. Der rote Faden. Chur. 2007/2008
Swiss Life Arena. 7. Migma Performancetage. Installation with Dorothea Rust. Lucerne. 2007
Miami Art Fair. Art on Armitage at Bridge Art Fair. Miami, FL. 2007
Brandenburgischer Kunstverein. Heimatflimmern. Potsdam. 2006
Helmhaus. Werk- und Atelierstipendien der Stadt Zürich 2006. Zurich. 2006
Galerie Staubkohler. Speed. Zurich. 2006
Kunstpanorama Luzern. After the loving. Lucerne. 2005/06
Kunstmuseum Luzern. Jahresaustellung Zentralschweizer Kunstschaffen 2005/Curated by Susanne Neubauer and Jury. Lucerne. 2005/06
Forum Vebikus Kammgarn. Home is an island like this one. Schaffhausen. 2005
Centre PasquArt. Helden Heute/Curated by Dolores Denaro. Biel. 2005
Cafe Gallery Projects. Hand Luggage 05/Curated by Oliver Kielmayer and Clare Goodwin. London. 2005
Colemans Project Space. Fash N Riot book project. London. 2005
Kunstpanorama Luzern. Buff!Buffet! Lucerne. 2005
I-20 Gallery. Littel red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School Art Auction. New York, NY. 2005
Nada Art Fair. Galerie Staub (g*fzk!). Miami, FL. 2004
Helmhaus. Werk- und Atelierstipendien der Stadt Zürich 2004. Zurich. 2004
Les Halles. A suivre / Curated by Stephan Wittmer (Kunstpanorama Luzern). Porrentruy.
K3. Hand Luggage 04. Zurich. 2004
Staub(g*fzk!). Dream on homeland destination. Zurich. 2003
Kunsthalle Palazzo. Yellow Pages / A project by Team 404 & John M Armleder. Liestal/Basel. 2003
Keim Bau Dialog. Presence and Absence / Curated by Nicholas Micros. Zurich. 2003
Workspace. Tasty Buds / Curated by Theresa Hackett. New York, NY. 2003
Kunstpanorama. Das Kanapee in meinem Herzen / Curated by Sushma Patricia Banz (Panorama_City). Lucerne. 2003
I-20 Gallery. Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School Art Auction. New York, NY. 2003
Kaskadenkondensator. Frontflipping. Installation with Sibylle Feucht. Basel. 2001
Artemisia Gallery. Here, There and Everywhere. Chicago, IL. 2001
Galerie Kabinett. Mobile Home. Bern. 2001
Kulturzentrum Nairs. Curraint d’Air II. Scuol. 2000
Stephen Gang Gallery. Cross-Cultural Voices II: Between Memories. New York, NY. 1999
Shedhalle Victoria. And what else is new. Installation with Performance by Dorothea Rust. Baar. 1999
Kunstraum Giswil. Was nicht ist. Installation with Performance by Dorothea Rust.Giswil. 1998
Franklin Fest. Arts Walk. New York, NY. 1998
Rutgers University Visual Arts Gallery. MFA Exhibition. New Brunswick, NJ. 1998
Kunsthaus Zug. Stipendienausstellung /Kanton Zug. Zug. 1997
Rutgers University Visual Arts Gallery. Rutgers/Yale Graduate Sculpture Exhibition. New Brunswick, NJ. 1998
Anna Kustera Gallery. Bit by Bit. New York, NY. 1998
Viridian Gallery. Group Show/ Curated by Lisa Phillips (Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art ). New York, NY. 1996
479 Gallery. Group Show. New York, NY. 1995
One Twenty Eight Gallery. Free floating. New York, NY. 1994
Limner Gallery. Emerging Artists 94. New York, NY. 1994
Obala Theater. Art/Umjetnost. Sarajevo. 1993

GRANTS

Grant of the Canton Zug (Werkjahr). 2006
Grant of the Canton Zug (Förderbeitrag). 2003
Residency Grant "Berlin" of the Canton Zug (Atelierstipendium). 2001
Residency Grant "Kulturzentrum NAIRS in Scuol” of Art in Engiadina bassa and Binz39 Foundation (Atelier). 2000
Grant of the Canton Zug, City of Baar, Alice and Walter Bossard Foundation, Nestlé pour l’Art Foundation and Ernst Goehner Foundation Zug. 1999
Grant of the Canton Zug (Förderbeiträge). 1997 + 1994

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS / COMISSIONS

Collection of the Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland
Collection of the Canton Zurich, Switzerland
Collection of the City of Zurich, Switzerland
Collection of the Canton Zug, Switzerland
Comission for the Collection of Victoria Liegenschaften. Baar, Switzerland

PROJECTS

+ Art education for children + Founding of Okidoki_Playground for art / + Kunstvermittlung für Kinder + Gründung von Okidoki_Spielplatz für Kunst (Gestalterische Workshops und Kurse, www.allesokidoki.ch. Zürich. 2009

+ Public Art + Public Art competition "Reformiertes Kirchenzentrum" in Zug. Winning project. Completion in winter 2012/13. / Comission for development study for "Pile Up" in Zug
+ Öffentliche Kunst + Kunst am Bau Wettbewerb für "Reformiertes Kirchenzentrum" in Zug. Siegerprojekt. Ausführung im Winter 2012/13.
/ Kunst am Bau + Studienauftrag Kunst am Bau für "Pile Up" in Zug. 2007/08

+ Curating + "Eröffnungsausstellung". Panorama_City. Zurich. 2002
"Unser täglich Brot". Placemat Project with six artsists, designers and journalists (Not realised). 2001
"SpaceTimeLinks". Gretel’s_File. Penzenstadler und Schaller Architekten. Baar. 2000/01
"WideOpen". Gretel’s_File. Zurich. 2000
Founding and Management of Gretel’s_File (Artists Files/Kunstkasten) in New York/Zurich.
1999 - 2003

+ Collaborations / Zusammenarbeit + Swiss Life Arena. 7. "Migma Performancetage". Installation with Dorothea Rust. Lucerne. 2007.
Kaskadenkondensator Basel. "Frontflipping" with artist Sibylle Feucht. Basel. 2001
Shedhalle Victoria. "And what else is new". Installation with Performance by Dorothea Rust. Baar. 1999
Kunstraum Giswil. "Was nicht ist". Installation with Performance by Dorothea Rust.Giswil. 1998

PUBLICATIONS

"Nicoletta West_After the loving". (Published by Kunstpanorama luzern). Lucerne. 2005
Helden Heute-Heros a jamais". (Published by Dolores Denaro, Centre Pasquart). Edition Clandestin, Biel. 2005
"Fashnriot Book Project". Edited by Clare Goodwin, Oliver Kielmayer, Sandi Paucic, Anne
Hardy and Flora McLean. London. 2005
"Drawing by Numbers" (Published by Bettina Burkhardt, Rolf Staub). Zurich. 2001
"Kunstraum Obwalden 97 98 99” (Published by Kunstreff 13). Verlag Martin Wallimann, Alpnach. 2000
Cross-Cultural Voices II: Between Memories" (Published by the Asian American Arts Centre & The Korea Society in collaboration with Stephen Gang Gallery). New York, NY. 1999"MFA Thesis Exhibition 98" (Published by Mason Gross School of the Arts). New
Brunswick, NJ. 1998

BIBLIOGRAPHY: SELECTION

Claire Geyer. Neue Zuger Zeitung: Sie schöpft aus dem Spiel des Spontanen.2007
Markus Meier. Neue Zuger Zeitung: Kantonale Kulturförderung. 2006
Barbara Raschig. Tages Anzeiger: Züritipp: Glanzlichter der Woche. 2006
Urs Bugmann. Neue Luzerner Zeitung: Die Poesie gewöhnlicher Geräte. 2005
Peter Pfister. Fraz: Spaghettipalmen und Ueberraschungspakete. 2005
Rob. Express: Abglanz einer Gesellschaft. 2005
Kathrin Rebsamen. Open. 2004
Manuela Sames. Schweizer Illustrierte. 2003
Fredi Bosshard. WOZ - Die Wochenzeitung. 2003
Angelika Affentranger-Kirchrath. Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 2003
Claudia Stein. Photography now. 2003
Bolero: Agenda, Highlights im Herbst/Winter. 2003
Brigitte Ulmer. Annabelle: Deko-Trip. 2003
Michael Weinstein. Newcity: Artemisia. 2001
Veronika Meier. Zuger Presse: Ordnung herstellen, wo keine ist. 2001
Murielle Schlup. Berner Woche: Mobile Home als Lebensstil. 2001
Michael Angele. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Im Vergleich zur Schweiz ist es
überirdisch ruhig. 2001
Annemarie Setz. Neue Zuger Zeitung: Neue Perspektiven verschiedener Richtungen. 2000
Franziska Meier. Zuger Presse: Den Reiz des Raumes erkunden. 1999
Ronald Schenkel. Neue Zuger Zeitung: In der Welt der systematischen Nutzlosigkeit. 1998
Johnson. New York Times: Bit by Bit. 1998
Adrian Huerlimann. Zuger Zeitung: Künstlernachwuchs gefördert. 1994