Where design and sculpture meet

Photos: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student portrait Dorian Büchi

Applying traditional techniques to a contemporary context: Master of Fine Arts student Dorian Buchi draws inspiration for his artistic practice from nature and traditional craftsmanship.


Lukas Zitzer: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic practice.
Dorian Büchi: I grew up in the countryside between Geneva and Lausanne. I spent most of my childhood outside building things with my brother. Nature has always played a significant role in my life and is an important part of my art practice today. I am fascinated by how nature forges one’s aesthetics. I am also attracted by the idea of taking things from nature that have no apparent function for the direct survival of our species and destroying them to create art. At the moment, I am interested, among others, in the works of Martin Puryear, Julian Charrière, Chloe Wise and Andrea Zittel. I have also been revisiting art works from the 1930s and 40s by Georgia O’Keeffe and Barbara Hepworth.

Lukas Zitzer: What are your current projects?
Dorian Buchi: I am currently working on a group of wooden sculptures inspired by traditional canoe paddles. They represent objects that may appear to be useful tools, but are constructed such that they cannot withstand the resistance of water and are therefore useless. I am aiming for something between design and sculpture. I have a deep connection with objects and tools and the meaning they convey. For some of my latest sculptural works, I have been using wood from my grandfather’s garden. I try, whenever I can, to use materials sourced in a circular way.

What value does craft have in your art?
Craftsmanship is not only a means to an end for me, but also an integral part of my practice. I like to explore traditional techniques and media and to apply them to a contemporary context. I try to do as much as I can on my own to gain as much know-how as possible. The more I understand a material and a technique, the more I can use it to interpret my ideas.

The theme of this issue of Zett is «renaissance.» Can you see an aspect of renaissance in your artistic work?
Sure, as artists, I believe we are constantly trying to reinvent ourselves and our ideas. I have been working for some time on a series of oil paintings representing prickly pear cacti. I am stunned by the speed at which they grow and thrive; they barely need any water and can grow anywhere. They just regenerate, as if they are constantly evolving.

Generally speaking, who or what deserves a renaissance?
Traditional printmaking.

Further student portraits published in Zett
Lukas Zitzer is responsible for communications at the Department Fine Arts at ZHdK.
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