Valérie Favre


January 18 - February 23, 2013

 Galerie Peter Kilchmann is pleased to show new paintings by Valérie Favre. The artist was born 1959 in Evilard by

Biel in Switzerland. She lives and works in Berlin. “Paintings” is the first solo show of the artist in Galerie Peter

Kilchmann following her participation in the opening exhibit of the new gallery space in early 2011.

How can one die? Over the last ten years Valérie Favre has occupied herself with the motif of suicide and has created

over one hundred small-format paintings on the subject (Selbstmord , 2003-2013, Oil on canvas, each 24 x 18 cm,

available as series of three or more works). While parts of the cycle of paintings have been shown on different

occasions, this is the first time that Valérie Favre presents the project in its entirety. Simultaneously the exhibition will

mark the end of the painterly discussion for her. From the beginning the artist was adamant about one thing: “There is

no place for the color red in these paintings.” By no means was the series meant to be palpable. Blatancy as an

attitude does not interest the artist at all. For the paintingsʼ  format Valérie Favre borrowed from analog photography.

The consistency in size and color palette creates the impression of a visual encyclopedia, which one encounters upon

entering the gallery space. From historical, fictional, to famous deaths – Favre spells all of them out in detail. Yet what

does it all mean? Suicide as a social taboo has no visual tradition for the artist to draw from. Precisely because of this

gap Valérie Favre became intrigued with the subject. The names on the invitation card hint at the amplitude, with

which the artist has dealt with the motif: From Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, who protested against his

mistreatment through authorities by burning himself in 2011, to Egyptian empress Cleopatra, who supposedly took her

life through the bite of a cobra in 30 B.C. The challenge of depicting the “unutterable” is at the heart of Favreʼ s selfconcept

as an artist. She is not here to concern herself with things that are easily representable. Favre doesnʼ t work

with preparatory drawings. Instead she literally draws her figures out of the canvas and color layers. In a wonderful

manner the painter strains her imagination and that of the viewers. “Representation demands radical measures and

stems from necessity.” The words of Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann could also be a statement by the painter

Valérie Favre. After all, it is quite a radical decision of the artist to focus on the motif of suicide with such intensity. The

time and effort has been worth it. The small-format paintings invite one to a visual encounter with a delicate subject

and open up a wide range of thought.

 The two other gallery spaces are dedicated to a different world. Collage, woodcut and drawing complement the

paintings here. The pictures vary more in size (up to 205 x 145 cm). The paintings are from the series “La fragilité des

fleurs ”, or “The fragility of flowers”. The still lifes with the withered bouquets tie in with the death theme of the first

gallery space. Cracked vases invite one to a slight reflection on the state of the world: “Les Petits Reflets du monde” is

the name of the object series. Additionally, the first references towards the “Rotkäppchen Zyklus”  emerge. Next to the

fairy-tale and victim figure Little Red Riding Hood the wolf makes an appearance, as does grandmotherʼ s bedstead, or

a sewing needle that signified the path through the woods in the original story tale. Valérie Favre often draws on ideas

and motifs from fairy-tales. For the first time, she now concentrates on a single fairy story. In the installation the works

point to each other, visualizing cross-references and inciting the viewer to a dynamic reading. Despite the fairy-tale

motif the central theme is still Painting as such. “Actually,” Valérie Favre muses, “my paintings are always about the

same ideas. I always deal with the same issue.” Favre understands painting to be its own language, and it is the

disruption that happens at the point of translation from Idea to Form that drives her artistic practice.

In 2012 Valérie Favre was nominated for the renowned Prix Marcel Duchamp in France. Her work was further shown

in a number of group exhibitions, including: “Beyond Memory” in the Museum of Seam, Jerusalem, 2011; “Intensif

Station”, K21, Düsseldorf, 2010. A catalog was published on behalf of her solo show at Kunstmuseum Luzern and

Carré dʼ art de Nîmes in 2009: “Valérie Favre: Visions”; another catalog “Valérie Favre” was published for

Kunstmuseum Ulm in 2008. Both publications are available through the gallery. In Spring 2013 Valérie Favre will

show an extensive single exhibition in the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein.