Max Brand, Vittorio Brodmann, Beni Bischof, Claudia Comte, Stéphane Dafflon, Armen Eloyan, Athene  Galiciadis, Mathis Gasser, Paul McDevitt, Charlotte  Herzig, Thomas Jeppe, Jan Kiefer, Victor   Korol, John Monteith, Nicolas Party, David Peschka, Guillaume Pilet, Nicholas Pittman, Ivan Seal, Francisco Sierra, Loredana Sperini, Tobias Spichtig, Henning Strassburger, Stefan Sulzer, Tyra Tingleff Finissage: Monday 8 December 2014, 6–8pm
5 Oct – 8 Dec 2014

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Opening: 4 October 2014, 5–9 pm

Samuel Leuenberger and Elise Lammer invite 25 artists from their shared and individual networks to celebrate SALTS new season of exhibitions, and to mark Elise Lammer’s inaugural show as Associate Curator.

Initially invited to participate to a salon-style hang exhibition, every artist was asked to propose between one and three paintings, no larger than 50 x 50 cm. The resulting selection of paintings draws from the long history of the medium and reflects the difficulty to define it - indeed the works on display mirror an ever-growing, eclectic and expanded field in evolution. From gouache on paper, egg-tempera, acrylic and oil on canvas, the works range from hard-edge paintings with geometric and organic forms, to abstraction and figuration using photorealist or expressionistic approaches.

In a typical 18th Century bourgeois mansion, a salon-style hang was a way to impress a visitor by displaying the totality of a collection of art in the salon (French for living room)—an intimate space meant to hold semi-private conversations. Exclusive guests, business partners and the like would be received and escorted to the hushed atmosphere of the salon and talk about selected topics, ranging from philosophy, gastronomy to politics. Certainly, the main focus in such business was not the art. If the display and circulation strategies of art have since evolved, painting was and still partly is a tool to assert wealth and power.

Alternatively, a salon-hang refers to Salon de Paris; the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts initiated by Louis XIV in 1667, where paintings were hung from floor-to-ceiling. Although a revolutionary economic model, the salon was limited to display academic art, and its conservatism instrumental in spreading the aesthetic and political taste of the French monarchy. Such display was adopted as a practical response to a lack of space, and started to become unfashionable as the controversial Salon des Refusés (French for salon of the rejected) opened, until its complete death with MoMA’s first exhibition curated by Alfred Barr in 1929.

Today, the straight political agendas have faded, and hanging artworks in cluster is rare outside of a museum. If artists oftentimes distrust the process, a salon-style hanging is not only a formal exercise and its relevance worth reassessing… Is it eccentric to think that such outdated display mirrors something truly contemporary? It’s so tempting to see a desktop here—this visual arrangement of colours and shapes where each icon is as much an autonomous element as a fragment of the networked, mysterious architecture of one’s mind. The uniqueness of each work is concealed yet revealed within the swarm, a quality that probably applies to most of the visual information we’re confronted with today. After all, it’s a subtle balance made of each visitor’s perception, predisposition, and possibly knowledge that leads to the validation or rejection of the parts as much as the whole.

This overwhelming amount of artworks is all the more disturbing in times of hyperbolic individualism, as it distracts from focusing one’s attention. Arguably, the initial exuberance quickly rewards one’s perseverance, when slowly adapting and letting the eye intuitively hone in on individual works. Indeed, the abundance and dismissive hierarchy brought by “ASSOCIATIONS NEW” may be a soft cure for the attention deficit we all suffer from.

Photography: Gunnar Meier