The upcoming exhibition at the Trace Gallery on August 27th presents‚ Hands, Heads and Horses’, a solo exhibition by Mizzo (Myriam Gämperli). In this show she reveals a new body of independent work produced when she returned to the place where she grew up. The series is inspired by images from 1950s issues of the magazines Du and Vogue as well as botanical illustrations.
Publications are a treasure trove that Mizzo first raided for motifs such as hands, heads, forks, knives, torsos and tails. These images come to life through collage and editing. On deep black backgrounds, isolated elements are rearranged in unconstrained formations: a lion takes on an arm for a tail, its hand grasps a flower; a woman cries tears of leaves that form a ruff round her neck; or a collar and tie make the neck beneath a face from a bloom of leaves, a hand pressed to the petal forehead. A century ago the founders of Dada and later the Surrealists embraced the potential of collage; a famous line by the poet Lautréamont describes beauty found in ‘the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella’. Mizzo builds on this tradition of disruption; her arrangements balance recognition and unfamiliarity. That mixture of the known and the unexpected often generates humour, though that element of comedy also illustrates the tension generated by powerful juxtapositions.
Mizzo takes collage still further when she scans and enlarges clippings to see how far she can push the originals, how long they hold their charge and charm. Reprinted, they become ingredients of complex works on board, layered with sprayed and painted acrylic and industrial paint. These larger works are more complex and yet more absurd. The colour fields add new dimensions to the picture plane, often repeating the positive and negative forms made through cutting. Meanwhile the motifs have space to develop into stranger creatures, human and animal, or odder apparitions in new, unknown worlds.
Pictorial traditions spanning centuries come into play – from religious iconography and portraiture through to editorial and fashion photography and advertising in recent decades. The displacement of body parts, if torsos and heads seem independent of each other, for example, interrupts how an image is read and makes the viewer look twice.
Mizzo is an established designer in the fields of graphics and scenography, working from Zurich for companies like doodah, carhartt and laend phuengkit.
WHERE The Trace Gallery, Militärstrasse 76, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
WHEN Thursday 27. August to Thursday 24. September 2015
Images: courtesy of The Trace Gallery Zurich