The hockey players of Gstaad – the super-exclusive VIP town in the Swiss Alps – were probably pretty astonished when first confronted with Claudia Comte’s idea for a performance. They had to use her sculptures as pawns for a game that she developed and for which she designed a field under the ice. And while they where pushing around those human-size abstract forms, the artist would underline and direct their actions by playing cartoonish sounds on a cheap keyboard plugged into the stadium’s loudspeakers. It sounds funny and crazy; and, in fact, it is. But more interesting is the fact that this performance highlights one of the core topics of Comte’s artistic practice: how can we activate sculpture?
With her fresh attitude towards well-known abstract forms, genuine explosive energy and humorous research, Comte has recently occupied a central place in the Swiss art scene and seems to be everywhere at the moment. Her advantage: she can produce fast and has a lot of ideas ready, simply waiting to find the perfect matching place in which to be realised. From shaped canvases, to zigzag wall paintings, optical patterns or monochrome surfaces, monolithic blocks or organic shapes, her vocabulary doesn’t leave any field of abstraction unexplored. And the combination of all these is there to see in her exhibitions, which can be perceived as very well calibrated installations. But more importantly she’s breaking with a tradition and succeeding in breaking a formal taboo: as a female artist she’s successfully intruding into the traditionally masculine domain of abstract art. No wonder that her favourite tool with which to shape sculptures is the chainsaw.
Originally published in the March 2014 FutureGreats issue, in association with EFG International