Painter, sculptor, photographer, Markus Raetz was above all an illusionist. The focus of these eye games and the inspiration of the Swiss artist is also the word. The word and its meanings, its writings, its languages. Through the new exhibition The Reflection of Words, sponsored by the Jan Michalski Foundation, the public rediscovers the creations of this artist, who put words at the heart of his creations, transcribing them through images and an artistic know-how to make them live differently. Between profound works, but also a playful approach, an invitation to the viewer to get involved, to observe, Markus Raetz has made the alphabet his playground. Sculptures, drawings, prints, but also diaries, the foundation lets the word after Raetz pass in review. “There is no meaning without interpretation. If you don’t interpret, there’s just an amorphous mass,” he explained. And you, what do you see in the reflection of the words?
The word, the letter, the verb. They were omnipresent in Markus Raetz’s creations, playing with their meaning but also with the value, the interpretation that their viewers would give them. On the Place du Rhône, the people of Geneva meet him every day with his contradictory sculpture: he says yes to one shot and no to the other. Again, it’s all about perspective, about choice, so to speak. Markus Raetz seems to have decided to let us play cat and mouse between the word and its meaning. The exhibition The Reflection of Words, proposed by the Jan Michalski Foundation, takes us into this world of writing, one of the three pillars of this artist, who was also fascinated by images and crafts. Inspired by the word, by the verb, in his career from the 1970s he quickly began to put it at the heart of his creations, playing tricks on our eyes. Because nothing is easy at Raetz. The word is double, triple, deceives us and then proves us right. We go to a page of the work, we read a nopethen now lets read a simple quarter turn Yes. Without looking closely, it almost seems like magic. But we’re not far off with this full-fledged master of illusion.
In the Foundation’s exhibition, the public travels through an entire life of art and reflection. Through his notebooks we delve into the intimacy of the creative process and effortlessly demonstrate the importance of drawing in his work. And then the material comes into play: brass letters that change as we turn around the sculpture, creations and installations that make us think, the everything and the Nothing each placed on a shelf. But also the passion for writing, for ink on paper, which is confirmed by his many drawings, where the word becomes the work, where the enigma is present again. And the love of the spoken word, beautifully transcribed through his sketches of a mouth pronouncing the vowels of the alphabet, shows us once again this obsession with the letter itself. Beyond the material, the meaning is there, but Markus Raetz hasn’t given his viewers all the keys. What does that mean everything ? that Nothing ? That ? That ? How are these words to be understood according to the primary meaning? How do you read them, do you hear them, do you understand them? Puns, homophonies, foreign languages, erroneously illegible writing, for the artist writing was a game, a complex game that the Foundation, which focuses on the protagonists of writing, honors and gives me pleasure. When words become magic…
The Reflection of Words, until July 22, 2022, Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature, Route de Chardève 2, 1147 Montricher, Vaud, www.fondation-janmichalski.com/
Article published May 25, 2022 and published in Go Out! #100
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