Exhibition – Philippe Saxer (1965 – 2013) in Bern, Switzerland

The exhibition took place in the Psychiatry Museum Waldau, Bern (5. Juni 2015 – 1. April 2016). The museum is located on a campus together with the the clinic and some workshops.

Available from:  https://www.puk.unibe.ch/cu/museum/museumra.html [accessed 16 March 2016]

I went to this exhibition out of several reasons: my interest in art therapy (my other work area), my interest in crossing boarder, edges in art, and to know understand what would make a painting a painting an art piece and when is it considered as an mental expression if illness.

In my previous researches on the swiss painter Max Gubler (Schaffeld, Jul 2015) and the more recent research on Mark Rothko (see Schaffeld, Feb 2016) I found that especially the outside is judging artwork in the context of mental health. Rothko had to articulate that his color fields painting as the Seagram murals are the expression of the state of mind of human mankind and not his own mental expression. That means crossing the boarder from internal mental expression of ones soul to the more conceptual articulation of an idea. I think the art world around the life of the artist has as well a certain influence. Like Gubler’s later work are done in a post-expressionists movement, Rothko’s works are a visualisation of a post-american abstract expressionism.

In this context I was wondering what I would see in the exhibition of Saxer. He was a patient and later an outpatient in the clinic and worked together with others on his art. He created a vast portfolio, from a fast few seconds drawing to more symbolic paintings. In 2013 he committed suicide in his flat in Bern.

I felt attracted by some works that opened new ideas in painting.

  • Untilted‘, 2000
    charcoal, resin on paper (∅ 56 cm)
    => the applied resin in blots make the underlaying charcoal drawing darker, it looks like small windows, it adds color as well.
    => I find this an intriguing idea that could be developed further.


  • Untitled‘, 1994
    Pen and ink on paper, 30×40 each
    => Ink drawings with bold contrast in black, variety in marking exploring the forms. Black for supporting foundation (e.g. table) working in negative space.


  • Untitled‘, ?
    => An intriguing still life in line and color application. Monochrome palette with red dots covering the picture plane. Wondering whether they are part of objects or an overlayer to the image? This I find an Interesting idea that I could work with in the future.=> Questioning What is part of the world and what is a cover resp. apart of the world?600.0024
    he following two figurative paintings are quite symbolic in its expression. Applied colors could have a meaning – or not.



  • Crucifixion – worshipping the cross with dog’, 2004
    oil on craft paper (220 x150 cm)

The exhibition showed me in a humble way the creative force that any person can feel inside that asks for expression, fast or slow, in small or large scale, in drawings or paintings. Just to look at the various works gave me a better sense of what art can do. More to the artist perhaps than to the outer world.


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