Exhibition view, Self-Portraits, Portraits And Still Lives, 2024. Photo Mathilde Lesueur.

Dorian Büchi

Self-Portraits, Portraits And Still Lives Solo Show

January 23rd - February 12th 2024

GALERIE MIGHELA SHAMA is thrilled to announce its latest exhibition, Portraits, Self-Portraits and Still Lives, featuring a group of paintings by Swiss artist Dorian Büchi. The show explores the pursuit of purpose and balance in our lives, spanning from societal and political implications of rewilding nature to the intimate realms of angst, memories and death. Join us in an exploration of the artist's narrative through evocative portraits, self-portrait and still lives.

Dorian Büchi, I Saw a Wolf, 2023, Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 cm.

In 2023, my first wolf sighting in Switzerland marked a momentous encounter. Thirty meters distant, the wolf paused, meeting my gaze briefly before vanishing as swiftly as it came. The wolf's resurgence in Europe weaves a complex tapestry of political and social repercussions. Celebrated as a triumph of conservation, it's entangled in political strife and social unrest. Environmentalists hail its return as a beacon of biodiversity's revival, a testament to nature's resilience. Yet, this ecological feat clashes with the pressing concerns of farmers and rural communities.

For many farmers, the wolf's presence looms as a threat to their livestock and livelihoods, reigniting ancient conflicts between conservation and agriculture. Financial losses and emotional turmoil arise when herds fall prey, demanding increased protection or, in some regions, calls for stricter control measures. As of December 1st, 2023, the federal nod for culling up to 2/3 of specific wolf packs amplifies the discord.

The discourse on wolf conservation laws escalates, igniting fervent debates that straddle the precarious balance between species preservation and farmers' economic well-being. Socially, the wolf symbolizes a dichotomy, evoking emotions steeped in cultural lore—some revere it as the epitome of untamed beauty, while others recall ancient tales of peril and dread. The wolf's return transcends mere species resurgence; it mirrors a broader societal conflict between conservation, rural sustenance, cultural narratives, and political maneuvering. Navigating this terrain demands nuanced dialogue and collaborative solutions that honor both ecological equilibrium and the genuine concerns of those affected—a labyrinth of coexistence in modern Europe. What significance does the wolf hold for you?

Dorian Büchi, IF 8.16, 2023, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 cm.

In the quest for health and well-being, the number of options can be overwhelming. Fasting, IF (intermittent fasting), 8:16 hours, 14:10 hours. And then there's micro dosing, meditation—mindfulness, transcendental, guided, chanting; the list continues. Endless possibilities, each claiming to be the ultimate path to vitality and peace. 

Navigating this plethora of choices often feels like a mental obstacle course. Do you go gluten-free or embrace the ancient grains? Should you meditate at sunrise or under the stars? The constant influx of new trends and studies can make you feel like you're on a treadmill, sprinting towards a finish line that keeps moving further away. This painting is about the angst of the astounding amount of choices and being lost in the midst of body and mind optimization. 

Dorian Büchi, Micro Dose, 2023, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 cm.

Dorian Büchi, Gluten Free, 2023, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24 cm.

Dorian Büchi, Smile, 2023, Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 cm.

The descendant of the wolf—the dog. The messy fur and friendly expression make it seem relatable, blending goofiness with the ease of someone good at taking selfies. The open mouth and sharp teeth serve as a subtle reminder of its inherent potential for danger, adding a nuanced layer to its domesticated allure. This portrait serves as a playful commentary on the quirks that endear our four-legged friends to us. Often, we treat our pets like family, blurring the line between human and animal. Through generations, we've selectively bred them for different purpose, toning down their wild instincts and, in some cases, even granting them their own thriving social media personas.

In the broader context of this exhibition, the painting stands as a parallel to the self-portraits challenging conventional notions of portraiture. By portraying a poodle with a touch of human flair, it encourages us to reconsider what defines a portrait and invites us to appreciate the charm found in the intersection of humanity and our beloved companions. Additionally, like other pieces in the show, this work also questions the boundaries between humans and the natural world, probing how far we'll venture to humanize and domesticate the wildlife in our midst. 

Dorian Büchi, The Party is Over, 2023, Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 cm.

The water jug stands as a symbol of sobriety, a mark of resilience and grit. However, the reflection in the vase serves as a subtle reminder that the past isn’t entirely forgotten; it lingers, ready to reappear unexpectedly, keeping watch from the shadows. The duck feather represents the fragile nature of sobriety, ready to fly away at the slightest breeze. Meanwhile, the strawberry vase, with its tantalizing red, cropped teasingly on the side, serves as a reminder that the road to sobriety isn’t without its tempting diversions.

Full of symbols, this canvas shows a narrative unfolding, the triumphs, the shadows, the delicate balance, and the seductive allure of what once was. “The Party is Over” not only captures a moment but a lifelong tale of resilience, temptation, and the ever-constant dance between past and present. 

Dorian Büchi, Sweet and Sour, 2023, Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 cm.

Sweet and sour serves as a poignant an ode to life and death. The pomegranate represents life abundance and in this particular case prompts a very personal and special memory. Each ruby seed within holds the essence of a cherished childhood memory, a testament to the joyous moments spent watching my grandfather relish the fruit, probably thinking of his own childhood spent on the plantation where he grew up in the south of Tunisia. He passed away a year ago. 

Adjacent to this symbol of sweet memory and life lies the skull of a deer, a solemn emblem of life’s transient nature. A story of the hunt, the chase, and the solemnity of mortality. More than the skull, the antler’s shadow acts as a memento mori. The juxtaposition of these elements—a vibrant, luscious fruit and the stark reminder of mortality—paints a picture of the cycle of life and death. The painting embodies the dichotomy of existence, where the sweetness of memories intermingles with the stark reality of impermanence. Each brushstroke captures the essence of reminiscence and reflection, inviting contemplation on the fleeting beauty of life, the preciousness of moments shared, and the inevitable. 

Dorian Büchi, Fomitopsis Pinicola, 2023, Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 cm.

This is a portrait of a mushroom. I see it when I go run a trail on a decaying stem. Little by little the trunk shrinks and the mushroom grows bigger. This polypore acts as a nutrient cycling agent; it helps the exchange of organic and inorganic matter. In simpler term, it is a key player in nature’s intricate recycling system. It digests and functions as a vector to put resources back into use by decomposing dead wood. In a way, this painting shows the cycle of life on earth, birth, life and death – everything is related.

For around 5000 years portraiture has existed and has been used to showcase importance of certain individuals. A beauty; perched and feeding, showcasing its purpose in the world, I hope you see it too. 

It is a reference to the environmental philosophy of “deep ecology”, urging a profound shift in human-nature relationships. Where humans must change the way they relate to nature and encourage to transcend the narrow perspective of exploiting nature solely for our benefit. Instead, let us recognize nature as an integral part of our world, reinforcing the interconnectedness of all living things—a sentiment often overlooked in contemporary society.

Exhibition view, Self-Portraits, Portraits And Still Lives, 2024. Photo Mathilde Lesueur.

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