'ICH DIEN' is Swiss artist Martin Chramosta's first exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition brings together a new series of ceramic ‘Snake Charms’ produced whilst at Istituto Svizzero’s ‘Roma Calling 2021/2022’ residency, alongside welded metal sculptures.
Chramosta's minimal yet ornate creations are assembled from scrap metal and found objects, or modelled from plaster, wax and clay. His use of material historically considered 'poor' and inexpensive, counters top-down art practices such as high-end art production that involves top artisans/companies producing works for artists. Chramosta's practice favours bringing back DIY, handcrafted methods to alter the identity of the artist into "a humble worker".
His series of 'Charms' (2021-Present) are circular, wall-based glazed ceramic works, assembled from smaller linear and meandering shapes. In both materiality and shape, they underline an ornamental and formal approach to art production. Yet in title and appearance, they have a strong metaphysical and spiritual undertone. Being exhibited together for the first time, the artist sees these works operating in conservative locations such as an entrance to a government building, a lobby of a hotel, an underpass, or a metro station, as their seriality amplifies their decorative qualities.
Shown alongside these are the artist's welded iron works, which have a similar graphical composition involving triangles, circles, lines and grids. The works’ material has been sourced from streets, ports, scrap yards, abandoned construction sites and demolished houses in Rome, Budapest, Basel and Vienna. In their creation, Chramosta advocates for the importance of compositions to refuse the banality of being called formalist; inside the works’ rigid appearance, stories are told about the places where the material came from, leaving a visual imprint. Favouring narrative over form constructs the artworks’ stories as singular scenes which can be traced through its materiality.
'ICH DIEN' is the motto on the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales and translates from German meaning "I serve", creating two opposing notions; chivalry and dedication with a collectivist political agenda. Chramosta often works with references to popular visual aesthetics and the harsh, poignant public art from Southern and Eastern Europe, blended with references to history and myth. Under socialism, the artist was supposed to be a worker in service to the people, enhancing the visuality of public space and contributing to the education and conditioning of them through governmentally approved aesthetics. The title returns us to the artist's question of who the artist serves within society, and more specifically, who do they serve in capitalism and what kind of ornaments are being used to decorate its narratives?
Martin Chramosta (b. 1982 Zurich, CH) lives and works between Basel, CH and Vienna, AT. He holds a Diploma in Art and Education from HGK Basel, CH (2008) and a Master in Fine Arts from Institut Kunst, HGK Basel, CH (2011). Awards include Kunstkredit Basel (2018) and Kunstpreis Riehen (2016).
He has had international solo exhibitions at institutes and galleries including: Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel, CH; Fondation Suisse, Paris, FR; Roche Collection, Basel, CH; Stiege 13, Vienna, AT; Die Diele, Zurich, CH; Horizont Galeria, Budapest, HU; Rinomina, Paris, FR; LLLLLL, Vienna, AT; Galerie Laroche/Joncas, Montréal, CA.
He has had international group exhibitions at institutes, museums, biennales and galleries including: Kunsthalle Basel, CH; Kunsthalle Palazzo Liestal, CH; Swiss Art Awards Basel, CH; Kunstmuseum Luzern, CH; Kunsthaus Langenthal, CH; Kunsthaus Centre d'art Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, CH; La Kunsthalle, centre d'art contemporain Mulhouse, FR; Jeune Création, Paris F; Belvedere21, Vienna, AT; NCCA Kaliningrad, RU; Dak’Art 2016, Dakar, SN; Museumsquartier, Vienna, AT; Haus Wien, Vienna, AT; Cassandra Cassandra, Toronto, CA; Alpineum Produzentengalerie, Luzern, CH; Galerie Emila Filly, Ústí nad Labem, CZ; Chamber, New York, USA; Kleine Humboldt Galerie, Berlin, DE; Les Urbaines, Lausanne, CH.
Chramosta is currently in residence as part of Istituto Svizzero's 'Roma Calling 2021/2022' residency in Rome, IT. Further residencies include: Art Quarter Budapest, H (2019); Residency of Land Steiermark, Graz, AT (2016); Cité des Arts, Paris, FR (2016); Quartier21, Vienna, AT (2015); Fonderie Darling, Montréal, CA (2012).
Forthcoming exhibitions include an institutional solo show at Künstlerhaus Bregenz, CH (October 2022). Further exhibitions include: MAUVE, Vienna AT (2022); Istituto Svizzero Roma, IT (2022); Wandertag, Vienna, AT (2023).
Collections include: Roche Collection and Kanton Basel-Landschaft Sammlung.