Born on April 9, 1976, in Switzerland. Lives and works in his own studio in Niederönz.
Artistic vision, technical skill and continuous innovation characterise Simon Berger‘s creative practice. Pioneering an improbable method of working glass in a two-dimensional, figurative way, the Swiss artist literally breaks boundaries with a revolutionary approach to his medium of choice, thereby moving beyond the century-old convention of building and modelling vitreous matter. Contrary to this long-standing tradition, his is a form of anti-creation as the destructive gesture of mere blows of a hammer on a glass pane ultimately ‘draws‘ images of great visual intrigue that emerge from the tangle of powerfully orchestrated cracks. By virtue of his unique sculptural language Simon Berger explores the depths of the material, striking the glass to liberate photorealistic ‘paintings‘ from the presumed flatness of the surface. The vitreous canvas in this regard is both the supportive structure of his artwork, as well as the visualisation of his artistic handwriting, while its transparency allows the artist to play with notions of an infinite beyond that assumes concrete form in the opacity of the breaks.
The closer and briefer the blows, the stronger the contrasts and the shades. In his hands, the hammer is no longer a tool of destruction, but rather an amplifier of effects. His lacerated portraits, incised in glass, transport the gaze into the tangles of cracks and creases which he refers to as ‘morphogenesis‘.
Simon Berger began his artistic explorations by painting portraits with spray cans before turning to other media. A carpenter by training, his first sculptural creations accordingly resulted from a natural attraction to wood. Drawn to different materials with their respective affordances and fostering a fascination with discarded items, the artist spent plenty of time working with used vehicle bodies to create assemblages. It was while pondering what to do with a car windshield that his idea for working with glass was born. Following first attempts, he gradually perfected his unique technique of ‘incising‘ images with a hammer, thereby turning the weakness of the material – its fragility and risk of breaking – into its greatest strength.
“Human faces have always fascinated me,” Simon Berger explains his primary choice of subject. “On safety glass, they come into their own and magically attract the viewer. It is a process of discovery from abstract fogging to figurative perception.” Of exceptional photorealistic allure, these portraits enthral for their expressiveness, as if animated from within and resonating with life. With his work on windowpanes, the artist pushes creative boundaries and probes the expressive capabilities of inert materials destined for factories. His vitreous paintings challenge habits of seeing as the glass canvases become sites where visual perception is held in constant suspense by the deconstructing and reconstructing image. Glass, the most capricious of all media for artistic expression, acts as a place where the force of a unique sculptural gesture translates into depictions of mesmerising appeal.
From the controlled shattering of glass and its resulting fractures, art recalls its power of suscitating wonder and awe since through destruction, Simon Berger allows beauty to emerge. (Text by Sandrine Welte)
Simon Berger, Agence DS, Paris, France
Simon Berger, Arstübli, Basel, Switzerland
Shattered, Aurum Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand
Unbreakable Identities, Gallotti&Radice, Milano, Italy
Le verre dans tous ses éclats, Vitromusée Romont, Switzerland
Cracked Beauties, Mazel Galerie, Brussel, Belgium
reFORMATION (with Pierre-Alain Münger), Frankonian Museum, Feuchtwangen, Germany
Simon Berger, Artstübli Gallery, Basel, Switzerland
Defekt – Duo Show with Pierre-Alain Münger, Artstübli
Gallery, Basel, Switzerland
Sculpture Garden Biennal Genéve, MAMCO (Musée d’art moderne et contemporain), Geneva, Switzerland
Spring Break, Mazel Galerie, Brussels, Belgium
Glasstress – State of Mind, Fondazione Berengo, Murano, Venice, Italy
L’ Ancien Musée de Peinture, Grenoble, France (2022); Break that wall, Mazel
Galerie, Brussels, Belgium
Street Art Fest, Grenoble, France
L’Espoir, Street Art Fest, Grenoble, France, curated by Jerome Catz, Spacejunk Grenoble (2022)
Untitled (front window), Aurum Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand, curated by Goldie and Leon Wilkinson, Aurum Gallery (2022)
Serpenti, BVLGARI, Zürich, Switzerland, curated by Florian Paul Koenig, Network of Arts (2022)
Broken Lives, Ministry of Traffic Safety of France, Paris, France, curated by Laurent Marthaler, Laurent Marthaler Contemporary (2022)
Kamala Harris, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, United States, curated by Philipp Brogli, Artstübli; We are Unbreakable, MTV Lebanon, Beirut, Lebanon, curated by Laurent Marthaler (2021)
Untitled, Golf Court Ätigkofen, Switzerland (2021)
Abribus, City of Geneva (CH), curated by Jean-Damien Zacchariotto (2020)
Untitled, City of Geneva, Switzerland, Promenade du Lac, curated by Jean-Damien Zacchariotto (2020)
Untitled (front window), Artstübli Gallery, Basel, Switzerland (2020)
E=mc2, Motorex, Langenthal, Switz (2016).