Francisco Sierra – Avalon

MANOR-Kunstpreis 2013

November 15th 2013 - march 2nd 2014, Kunstmuseum

The MANOR Art Prize St. Gallen is being awarded for the 12th time in 2013 and this year’s winner is Francisco Sierra. Born in Chile in 1977, the artist emigrated to Switzerland with his family in 1986 and grew up in Herisau and St.Gallen. The breath-taking perfection of his photorealistic paintings and the complex motifs with a charming, ironic touch of social criticism have already attracted considerable attention. The MANOR Art Prize is associated with an extensive exhibition of new paintings, most of which were created for the exhibition at the Kunstmuseum St.Gallen.

Curator: Roland Wäspe

Francisco Sierra provides multiple answers to the question of what contemporary figurative painting could look like. The unexpected shifts in the form and materials of the items portrayed make his work ambiguous and irritating at the same time. As a result, they are fascinatingly contemporary, particularly because they invoke the great classical traditions of painting. The objects are hardly ever what they appear to be.

While he was studying violin, Francisco Sierra taught himself how to paint. The MANOR Art Prize, which was initiated by the company Maus Frères SA in 1982 and is now awarded in 12 Swiss cities in collaboration with their art museums, is one of numerous awards that the artist has had the privilege to accept so far. In addition to the Swiss Art Award and a studio scholarship from Landis & Gyr, Sierra has also been a repeat recipient of the Kiefer Halblitzel Prize for the Visual Arts.

Just as Francisco Sierra is interested in the pitfalls of contemporary photographic images and the transforming possibilities of painting, he also elegantly reflects upon surreal and conceptual visual ideas, which always revert to the ordinariness of the things he sees. For the viewer, the virtuoso handling of materials, objects and suggestion comes together to create an impressive, visual experience.

With his series of works entitled «Formology of Avalon» he takes a journey to the mythical location of Avalon from the legend of King Arthur. The seven large-scale paintings (170 x 130 cm) in the series, all of which depict abstract reliefs, are initially reminiscent of formalistically construed modern art. Comic-like pencil sketches, which the artist quickly drew in series, served as the starting point for the work. In the case of «Formology of Avalon», the theme is the abstract exploration of forms. The artist recreates these drawings in the same A4-format using a plaster-like material, resulting in white relief plates with three-dimensional, nonrepresentational structures, whose contour lines correspond to the preceding sketches. And this is where the coherent visual aspect of his paintings, which meticulously copy the appearance, begins. Varying shades of white characterise the abstract, small reliefs, but the colour white is no longer found in the paintings. In infinitely differentiated approaches using a meticulously developed brushstroke technique that realistically portrays things with photographic accuracy, Sierra completely distances himself from the reference objects, precisely because he portrays them so realistically. The objects are reinvented once again on the large-scale canvas. They now serve as the starting point of an artistic process, which makes the perception of the object something that can be experienced thanks to the help of a differentiated language of brushstrokes.

The key question of the visual arts regarding depiction and perception mechanisms is the central focus of this research. The fascinating, excessive clarity of the painting allows us to reconsider our own point of view as if under a magnifying glass.

During the exhibition at the Kunstmuseum St.Gallen, a presentation with sketches by Francisco Sierra is being held at the Kunstmuseum Solothurn from September 28th 2013 to February 2nd 2014. A joint, richly illustrated catalogue has been published to accompany the complementary exhibitions.


Francisco Sierra

Born 1977 in Chile
Lives and works in Cotterd

(Kopie 1)

[Translate to Englisch:] Der 1977 in Chile geborene Künstler übersiedelte 1986 mit seiner Familie in die Schweiz und wuchs in Herisau und St.Gallen auf. Parallel zu einem Violinstudium brachte sich Francisco Sierra das Malen autodidaktisch bei.

Der von der Firma Maus Frères SA 1982 initiierte MANOR-Kunstpreis, der inzwischen in 12 Schweizer Städten in Zusammenarbeit mit den Kunstmuseen vergeben wird, ist eine von zahlreichen Auszeichnungen, die der Künstler bislang entgegennehmen durfte. Neben dem Swiss Art Award und einem Atelierstipendium von Landis & Gyr erhielt Sierra auch mehrfach den Kiefer Halblitzel Preis für Bildende Kunst.

(Kopie 2)

[Translate to Englisch:]


2013«Avalon» Manor Kunstpreis St.Gallen 2013, Kunstmuseum St.Gallen
«works on paper», Kunstmuseum Solothurn 2012
«fritto misto» etagen, Bern
2011Galerie Gregor Staiger, Zürich (with Brian Moran)
2010«La Girafe et Le Temple» Edizioni Periferia, Luzern
2009«The Universe», Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen am Rhein
«es», Kunsthaus Langenthal (with Sabina Baumann and Gitte Schäfer)
«Caravan 1/2009» , Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau
2008Galerie Krethlow, Bern
2007«Everybody has his day and some days last longer than others» Galerie Lucy Mackintosh, Lausanne (with Naofumi Maruyama)
2006Galerie Krethlow, Bern


2013«Hackordnung #5 – FormFREIheit» Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen am Rhein
«Feu Sacré», Kunstmuseum Bern
«Orte des Unheimlichen. Dazwischen und anderswo», akku Emmen «Carte Blanche», Chesa Planta, Samedan (with C. Paravicini and N.-A. Darbellay)
«I am your neighbour! Young artists and portraiture» Bromer Art Collection
«Edition Mai 2013» Verein für Originalgraphik, Zürich Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, Kunstmuseum Bern
«Originally Bern», Galerie Bernhard Bischoff, Bern
«Edition VFO zu Gast», Stadtgalerie Bern
«corpo a corpo», Laboratorio Kunsthalle Lugano
«Kander, Stein und Zucker – Drei Reisen» Nidwaldner Museum, Stans
2012«Heimspiel 2012», Kunstmuseum St.Gallen
„Meret‘s Sparks. Surrealisms in Swiss Contemporary Art», Kunstmuseum Bern
«Hackordnung #4 – hier, dort und anderswo», Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen am Rhein
 «beiträge Stadt und Kanton Luzern», akku Emmen
«20 Jahre Periferia», Edizioni Periferia, Luzern
«Drôles de gens», Musée Jurassien des Arts Moutier
«Review», Werke aus der Kunsthaus-Sammlung, CentrePasquArt, Biel Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, CentrePasquArt, Biel
«Ausgezeichnet», Kunsthalle Wil
2011«Zentralschweizer Kunstschaffen 2011», Kunstmuseum Luzern «I love Aldi», Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen am Rhein [ cat. ] «Get up and run away with it - about love and the impossible», Palais Bleu, Le-Lieu, Trogen Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, Kunstmuseum Thun «People don‘t do such things» Galerie Lucy Mackintosh, Lausanne Accrochage [Vaud 2011], Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne «Adieu Gessnerallee!», Galerie Mark Müller, Zürich
2010Weihnachtsausstellung, Kunsthalle Bern „«Kopien und Zitate», sic! Raum für Kunst, Luzern
«Sangallensia II» Galerie Christian Roellin, St.Gallen
«Edition August 2010» Verein für Originalgraphik, Zürich Swiss Art Awards, Messe Basel Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, Kunsthaus Langenthal
2009Baku Biennale 2009, Azerbaijan
«Heimspiel 2009», Kunsthalle St.Gallen
«Small Talk», Galerie Paul Hafner, St.Gallen
«Portraits, Faces and People», Katz Contemporary, Zürich Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, Kunstmuseum Bern
«Animals», Galerie Krethlow, Bern Sankturbanhof, Sursee
2008Weihnachtsausstellung, Kunsthalle Bern «face à face», Galerie Krethlow, Bern Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, CentrePasquArt, Biel
«Comme des bêtes. Ours, cochon, chat et Cie», Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne
2007«Unter 30» V – Junge Schweizer Kunst im CentrePasquArt, Biel
Swiss Art Awards, Messe Basel
Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium, Kunstmuseum Thun
«Les rêves du château», Château de Nyon Accrochage [Vaud 2007], Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne

(Kopie 3)

[Translate to Englisch:]

2013Manor Art Prize, St.Gallen
2012Werkbeitrag Stadt und Kanton Luzern
2011Sommerakademie Zentrum Paul Klee, cur. Pipilotti Rist Werkbeitrag Kanton Appenzell Ausserrhoden
2010Landis & Gyr Atelierstipendium in London IBK Förderpreis for drawing2009: Förderpreis Aeschlimann Corti Stipendium Werkbeitrag Kanton St.Gallen
2008Cahier d‘Artiste Pro Helvetia Série VIII
2007Swiss Art Award Kiefer Hablitzel Prize Rotary-Prize 2006: Kiefer Hablitzel Prize