Not Vital


Catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition Not Vital: 十 五, presented at Sperone Westwater, New York, 3 March - 31 March 2013. Features essay by Gian Enzo Sperone.

Not Vital features new stainless steel sculptures, HEADS, and a series of related drawings. Vital developed this striking sculptural series in his studio in the art district of Caochangdi, Beijing. These seven HEADS, all of a monochromatic palette, ranging from 4.5 to 6.2 feet in height, are pared down to simple contours. Only two of the works, HEAD Self-Portrait (2013) and HEAD Everton (2014), depict specific sitters. The flawlessly smooth, metallic finish, created using cutting-edge technology, establishes an austere and commanding presence. Seemingly both human and machine-like, the sculptures occupy an uneasy middle ground, on occasion ambiguous and disconcerting. These sculptures suggest Vital’s fascination with the fast-paced, highly productive, and raw nature of industrial China today. The abstracted and simplified shapes, however, also recall the earliest forms of sculptural representation, such as the iconic carved Moai statues of Easter Island and the ancient sculptural forms of Asian religious art. Not Vital (b. 1948, Sent, Engadin, Switzerland) studied in Paris and Rome before moving to New York in 1974.

Vital currently divides his time between Brazil, Chile, China, Niger and Switzerland. The artist’s work was featured in “Plateau of Humanity” at the 49th Venice Biennale, Italy (2001). Vital's major exhibitions have taken place at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany (2005); The Arts Club of Chicago, Illinois, (2006); KÖR Kunsthalle Wien public space Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria (2009-2010); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China (2011); the Cabinet d’Arts Graphiques, Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland (2014); and the Museo d’arte di Mendrisio, Mendrisio, Switzerland (2014-2015). In 2013, 700 Snowballs, an installation of 700 individual glass balls, was on view on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy. In autumn 2014, Vital’s Tongue will be featured in the Busan Biennale 2014, South Korea. Vital had his first solo show at Sperone Westwater in 1995, and “EVERTON” will be his seventh solo show at the gallery.

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