Wolfgang Laib

03.09.2017-18.02.2018

03.09.201718.02.2018

MASI hosts a retrospective dedicated to Wolfgang Laib, a German artist whose work in the contemporary artistic scene stands out for its essentialness, clarity, and depth of thought. Conceived in collaboration with the artist himself, it comprises 50 works, including sculptures, photographs, drawings, and installations that explore all the areas of his creative universe.

Curated by Marco Franciolli

In collaboration with Francesca Bernasconi


The drawings and photographs that open the show immediately outline Laib’s unique artistic language, merging with harmony and simplicity, a deep knowledge of culture and Eastern religions, and an equally close reflection on the roots of Western cultural heritage.

Laib’s photographs taken during his trips to Europe and Asia comprise a repertoire of forms that draw new life in his essential pastel drawings. In turn, the motifs that fill his works on paper are echoed and magnified in the sculptures and installations on display, according to a principle of circularity and repetition that is characteristic of the artist’s work.

On the generous level -2 space, works representing Laib’s entire artistic trajectory converse without barriers, from his essential Milkstone, which beautifully balances the hardness of marble and the fluidity of milk, a leitmotif since the artist’s early shows, to his more recent wooden structures covered with reflecting Burmese lacquer (Untitled, 2003); from the famous sequence of Rice Meals (1983) to the imposing ziggurat (Es gibt keine Anfang und kein Ende, 1999) made of wood and beeswax, that impresses the viewer by its sheer size and intense fragrance. At the heart of the exhibition, the large and luminous field of pine pollen, a presence as ephemeral as it is grandiose, inevitably invites us to contemplate the cycles of nature and life.

Laib’s distinctive treatment of the organic and inorganic materials in his works is significant: he sculpts marble, shapes beeswax, and arranges pollen in orderly compositions without presuming to attach new value to the materials. Rather, he seeks to act as a go-between who, through his work, makes the intrinsic beauty of every material visible to the viewer.

  • MASI LAC

  • Piazza Bernardino Luini 6, 6900 Lugano

Biography

Wolfgang Laib was born in Metzingen in 1950 and grew up in a cultured, open-minded family environment. In the 1960s, the family made several trips to Asia. Laib visited museums, monuments, archaeological and pilgrimage sites, coming into contact with cultures and lifestyles that were diametrically opposed to Western ones. In 1968, notwithstanding his profound interest in art, he began to study medicine. From 1970 onwards, the Laib family spent their summers in southern India, where his parents founded a project for sustainable development. Wolfgang Laib was greatly influenced by his contact with the local lifestyle. In 1972, the artist made his first sculpture, a Brahmanda ( “cosmic egg” in Sanskrit), and from that moment, devoted himself entirely to artistic creation. Over the course of his career, Laib has exhibited his work in major European and American museums, and has participated in many editions of Documenta and the Venice Biennale. In 2015 he received the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture. Laib currently lives and works in a small village in southern Germany, and for a few months every year in a house-cum- studio in Southern India.

Shop

Wolfgang Laib (IT/EN)

Catalogue

Curated by Marco Franciolli
2017 MASI Lugano
Italian/English edition
Ed. Casagrande
224 pp.
ISBN 978-88-771-3773-9