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”Don’t try to push it.” Swiss artist Not Vital, best known for his sculptures and architectonic installations worldwide, shares his advice with emerging artists.
When Not Vital started selling his art as a young artist in New York City, the most memorable advice he got was a practical one from his father, who was not an artist: “I remember, very early on, someone came to the studio to buy a drawing. And then I put up like lots of drawings for this person to choose from. And then my father said: “You should not have more than five drawings.” Because how can someone choose from more than five works?” Vital says and continues: “Don’t try to push it. Even though, if you’re hungry, don’t say that you’re hungry or don’t say that you need to pay rent. No. Because otherwise, out of sympathy, it’s not going to happen.”
Still, Not Vital recognises that he and his peers’ circumstances in New York in the 1970s and 1980s are different: “We were maybe in an easier situation than now. Because now there are more artists and everyone wants to succeed immediately,” Vital explains and elaborates: “Take your time and not just immediately try to be successful. That either comes, or it doesn’t come.”
Not Vital (b. 1948) is a Swiss artist who works in diverse media across installations, paintings, drawings, and sculptures, typically integrating architecture. Vital divides his time between the U.S., Niger, Italy, China and Switzerland, and his art is centred on personal impressions and experiences from around the world. This somewhat anthropological approach is also reflected in how his career is structured into sections, e.g., glass blowers in Murano or paper artists in Bhutan. Vital’s work has been featured in the 49th Venice Biennale in Italy (2001), and he has held significant exhibitions at prominent venues such as the Kunsthalle Bielefeld in Germany (2005), The Arts Club of Chicago in the U.S. (2006), Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China (2011), the Museo d’arte di Mendrisio in Switzerland (2014-15) and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London (2021).
Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen interviewed Not Vital at his studio in Sent, Switzerland, in August 2021.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
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