Artwork of the month December

Adrian Schiess, Fetzen, 1982–89 and 1991–2000

Adrian Schiess

* 1959 in Zurich, Switzerland

Fetzen (Scraps), 1982–89 and 1991–2000

Acryl and acrylic lacquer on semi-cardboard, cardboard, panels, foil

Various dimensions,
 more than 1000 single pieces

6 oak and glass tables, each 78 x 100 x 200 cm

Joint acquisition of Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein and Kunstmuseum St.Gallen
Fetzen, 1982–89 (one table) is a donation by the artist to the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein.


Adrian Schiess considers 1980 as the starting point of his activity as a painter, in which questioning the reality of painting plays a continuous role. Fetzen (Scraps) are among the artist's most radical works, created in a lengthy, continuous process, mainly in the south of France in Mouans-Sartoux, where Schiess lived for many years in close contact with nature. In his process-based work his aim is to avoid over-determinacy and, accordingly, he lets an element of chance play a part in his works, for example in the form of tearing or light.

At the same time, his scraps and fragmented objects can also be seen as signs of rebellion – Schiess also played in a punk band – against the prevailing artistic positions at that time. Denise Frey of Kunstmuseum Luzern wrote: 'He paints in opposition to the mentality (akin to that of 1968) of the Junge Wilde [Wild Youth], whose expressive painting caused a furore in the art market. Their conceptual positions demanded perpetual constraints on discussion and legitimation to which [Schiess] refuses to submit; he finds their sprawling, affected gestures of painting – "They paint all sorts of mythologies and stuff like that by the square mile" – simply too illustrative, too verbose. [...] Being non-objective and serial, the work should "disperse the meaning", pointing to nothing and never referring to itself.'

Adrian Schiess soon came to question the individual image, creating constantly growing series of works. A constitutive factor of this work is not only the tremendous quantity of the scraps (more than 1,000), pieced together one by one, but also the spatial character of their arrangement, which allows the viewer to discern the artist's movement: the performative meaning. These fragmented, painterly, layered scraps also give tangible form to the process of painting itself, that is created layer by layer. In this we see the penetration of the surface and the immersion in time and space. Ultimately, it is all about time.

Christiane Meyer-Stoll

<b>Adrian Schiess, Fetzen, 1982–89 and 1991–2000</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.