EXPERIENCE FROM AN ARTIST IN RESIDENCE in Switzerland

Work in Yvonne Rüegg's Studio
Work in Yvonne Rüegg’s Studio

2. Art project in preparing 3. Swiss Alps - fantastic! 4. Small studio high in the Alps 5. Art library in the house 6. Residency living room 7. Studying perfomance in Cologne Art conferenceWhen I was flying away from stuffy Moscow, I had no idea that something so a diverse and rich would be waiting for me in Zurich, and that I would experience such an interesting  trip, full of different discoveries not only in the field of art,  but in culture as well, the culture of one of the most beautiful countries (though it seems to be so small on the map, but is full of much variety).

The continuation –

At the airport I was met by Yvonne Ruegg, an art director of the Artist in Residence Programme, who was waiting for me long before I appeared with all my luggage and paintings. I remember how since those very first moments in the airport I started feeling such a different speed of the life and a lifestyle, in comparison to Moscow, people around were doing everything so calmly: talking, drinking and even moving in that way.

But it was not the same in the place, where I had to stay a month and a half, according to my observation in the Artists programme, which was full of many different things.

A house of the residence was situated 20 minutes from Zurich in a spectacular place with nice views on the fields and the forests, in a small town Embrach. It was an interesting combination for me to see, the high civilization and almost wild nature around: wild birds flying above the fields and a swimming pool with a sport complex, all the things right near your windows.

And though everything outside seemed to be very peaceful, inside the house was an atmosphere full of energetic and creative motion.

A residence house was quite big and there were 4 floors there.

Coming from outside you can see first of all paintings on the walls, the works of different periods, made by the landlady, art-director – Yvonne.

On the first floor there is a large light living room, a library with books, most of which are about contemporary art and different painting techniques, and there is a fire place as well. There is a big glass wall, which separates the house from the nature and a lovely garden, where you can sit in the shade on a hot day or have a barbecue during some of the art meetings.

My room was on the third floor and a view from the window was fantastic! As soon as I saw it my thoughts started to have a distance far away from Moscow’s vanity…and closer to the art ideas.

There was an art studio on the second floor full of different kind of materials, canvases and papers in different colours and sizes, colours everywhere – on the floor, on the tables and on windows sills as well. So you can feel very much a creative in the process.

My programme lasted 6 weeks and was full of different things to do.

During the first days together with art-director Yvonne we went to Zurich’s museums, and saw the collections of paintings in the Kunsthaus and in some other museums as well, in an old part of the town, where there are medieval cathedrals (one of them with Chagall stained-glass windows), famous universities and also wonderful surroundings. And in the evenings often we had creative meetings inside the residence house, or outside together with local Swiss artists and other interesting people.

During one of the meetings we had an interesting talk with the president of the Swiss association of Artists in residence programme, who among other things mentioned, that it’s a pity that still now most of the people and even artists has a stereotype that Artist means a painter first of all, but according to his words, it would be much more productive today to join in professional community and in the residence different kinds of the art- together, like with performances, installations and so on.

And on my side the thing which surprised me a lot in Zurich museums was a way how the paintings in classical part of collection were joined together in one hall with absolutely contemporary paintings or photos and installations as well. You can see Rembrandt or Poussin on the walls together with the installations in the middle of the hall. And among Swiss painters I discovered deeper for myself not only Sigantini and some others, but especially the whole family of Giakometty – Alberto, Augusto and Jovanny, whose works were in several halls in the Kunsthaus in Zurich and also in Kunsthaus in Chur (a small town near the mountains, which was a place for many Swiss artists to meet and to paint).

During the time the most impressive part which was something unbelievable and inspiring for me was a trip high in the mountains, where Yvonne (a director) has a small house, which is so high, that sometimes you can see the clouds moving under it. That was a great place for painting for sure and for finding all the inspiration. When you see the high hills with the snow and a green-green grass right down from a small window of the studio, which is situated on the second floor, you are completely lost in the time and space, it’s like a weightlessness, and for sure, all the artist can only dream about the same place to leave, to breathe and to bring their ideas to life!

There was exactly something mystic among those hills, something, that you can only feel through your own experience in this relationships with nature face to face, it`s hard to explain through words, but is possible express through painting and art.

Sometimes even in night time I left my bed and walked in a darkness full of the stars, or woke up earlier to see the sun rising, changing the colours of the stones of the hills. People in the mountains are so friendly, that will not let you go without treats. Once, during a walk we started to talk a bit with the farmers and very soon they invited us to come inside, where we spend all the evening and tried different kinds of Swiss wines and cheese.

Visiting the Alps made a deep impression on me not only  because of fantastic nature, but also cause of a kind of new “creative and extreme artist experience” up high in the hills in our 7 hours trip and hiking. Everybody who think he has a fear of heights has to do that to overcome it! Especially with Yvonne Ruegg, who was not only an artist and art director, but a sport instructor as well. The way was maybe not so easy, sometimes we had to  move in a very narrow and snow way very high close to break, but overcome it you will see the heart of the Alps and the nature will open for you what is deep inside: this contrast of the bright green grass and white snow on it, the flowers- violet alps roses and the cleanest water and falls, the sounds of the bells of the cows walking somewhere in the fields far away and down, all these are just unforgettable impressions.

Coming back to the civilization, there are also many inspiring places around Embrach, where the residence is. We had a time visiting the Rain river and Rain falls, where you can feel the power of nature and falls around the castle and it is really amazing! It`s always needs to be seeing once, than describing several times in the words.

And after all that, according to the programme, I had to visit Cologne and several museums of contemporary art there, also to exhibit my works in International Christian Artist Conferences in Cologne and after coming back to Switzerland to see Basel and its famous museums and to go to the south part of Switzerland, close to Italy.

Among all these plans I was able to paint during my stay in several places where we travelled, like in the mountains, and in the Artists in residence studio as well. Most of the materials were given me and it was interesting to try new kinds of techniques and the unusual things, which made my art experience wider.

But the most important thing in a programme for me as an artist, was, I think, all these things which were going on around: the museums and their collections (especially in the field of contemporary art), the places where we travelled to discover the nature and to find inspiration, and for sure the art and creative talks, connections and meetings.

All of these things made my ideas and my art experience grow in the Swiss Artists in Residence Programme.

Elena Yangicher, Visual Artist, Moscow

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