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The LISTE art fair, since its inception, has built a reputation as the place to discover new artists in Basel. Presenting mostly emerging galleries, and around a dozen first-timers each year, it is the perfect counterpart to the blue-chip dealers on view at Art Basel. The fair has partnered with Helvetia insurance since 2004 to present a prize to a young artist and recent graduate of a Swiss university. Whitewaller spoke with this year’s Art Prize winner, Andriu Deplazes, whose paintings will be on view at LISTE.
WHITEWALLER: Congratulations on being awarded the Helvetia Art Prize. What does this kind of recognition mean for your practice?
ANDRIU DEPLAZES: In my practice, it is very important to have a lot of time and privacy to sustain a continuous working process. This is part of the reason I moved to Brussels two years ago. Of course, it feels very good that my work is being appreciated, but it’s a subject separated from my practice. If anything, it has made me more critical toward my paintings.
WW: Who are the artists you’ve been drawn to while in school at the Zürich University of the Arts?
AD: During my time at art school, I studied various painters from different epochs and tried to interpret their techniques in a personal way. Art history has always been a very rich source for me. I love to go to museums and dive into the world of other painters’ works, but the names of those who inspire me I keep to myself.
WW: Part of the award includes an exhibition at LISTE this June. Can you tell us about the works that will be on view?
AD: It will include my recent painting and drawing practice. I am especially looking forward to showing for the first time a big selection of ink and pencil drawings, which are often spontaneous and quick visual representations of ideas and imaginings. Often the drawings are starting points for other drawings and oil paintings. They kind of show my working process, how I play around with things that I see or imagine.
WW: Was there a starting point for this body of work?
AD: There hasn’t been a definitive starting point of these images, rather, a language of color and painting technique that slowly evolved and allowed me to express more multifaceted ideas. As I don’t work in series, I try to take a new step with every painting to discover new techniques and contents.
WW: While in Basel for LISTE this year, are there other fairs, exhibitions, or events you’re particularly looking forward to?
AD: I will definitely visit the national award ceremonies and the contemporary museums. During these days in June, Basel is full of exciting events. After that, I am playing with the idea of spending some time in Morocco. I am very interested in the people there as well as the different elements of the visual culture. I am especially looking forward to seeing the local craftwork consisting of different fabrics, ceramics, and ornaments.
This article appears in Whitewaller Basel 2017, out this week.