In the Studio of Vittorio Brodmann
The Swiss artist on temporary studio situations and swimming
I am currently in Marseille for a residency called Triangle France. The first time I heard about it was from a friend who was here in 2011. I always wanted to come to Marseille, so I applied last year.
Since I am living with two other artists in a city I haven’t been to before, there is less of a daily routine than usual. Sometimes we’ll have breakfast or lunch together, sometimes we eat alone. We also get up at different hours. I often spend my mornings reading the news and looking at more or less random things on the Internet and in books; learning about things and procrastinating. I usually get to the studio between 1 and 3 pm and stay there until 6 to 9 pm, depending on how I’ve done that day. Since I work on several paintings at once, I try to get at least one to the point where it could potentially be finished. I go to the studio about three or four times per week.
I’ve had temporary studio situations since last summer, when I moved to Zurich from Vienna. I haven’t spent more than four months in the same studio. I was in LA for three months last winter to prepare for my show at Freedman Fitzpatrick, which opened in January. Afterwards I went to Peru for one month to do a residency (92Capital) that Vanessa Safavi and Pilar Zevallos organized and also to visit some relatives. When I lived in Vienna I had a small studio for about two years. I felt comfortable there after a while, but it was only 15 square meters and had no windows. I guess it wasn’t the perfect workspace, but it was totally ok. I didn’t have any studio neighbors since the door opened straight onto the street. I never have too much stuff in my studio besides the tools that I need: just brushes, paint, canvas, stretchers, a stapler, a hammer, nails, and so on. I don’t like to have books in my studio, for example; I find them distracting.
I don’t work with themes very often. It is more about shifting attention onto different aspects of my practice and trying to combine it with different ways of handling things that I find interesting in other fields and in art.
At the moment, I like listening to the podcast Professor Blastoff while working. It’s a weekly conversation by comedians Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsburger. Each podcast focuses on a central theme: anything from Aliens, Rude Behavior, Gratitude, Aging and Immortality, or Animal IQ to Sustainability or Kung Fu. They usually invite a guest who is supposed to be or actually is an expert on the topic. The most interesting part is how they move from one topic to another, and sometimes you get something like an inside look at how comedians work.
Since I’m in Marseille, I profit from the opportunity to go for a swim at one of the many beautiful swimming spots here. I like to read at the beach since it helps my concentration. Right now I’m reading Lanark by Alasdair Gray from 1981. It's partly a realistic story of a young man growing up in Glasgow and partly a dstopian surrealist story of a city called Unthank (that is also kind of like Glasgow).
The two catalogues I have lying around in my room are Sade. Attaquer le soleil, for the exhibition last autumn at Musée d’Orsay, and a catalogue of Friedl Kubelka vom Gröller. There is also “The Book of Yōkai, Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore” by Michael Dylan Foster. Yōkai are figures in Japanese folklore that are comparable to monsters and have supernatural powers. There are a great variety of different ones. Toriyama Sekien made beautiful woodprints of lots of them in the late 18th-century.
In August I’ll move back to Zurich.