Raphael Hefti has a novel approach to experimentation with materials. He is fascinated with processes and often invents his own. His works blur boundaries between natural and industrial, abstract and representational. He frequently collaborates with technicians, scientists, and even dogs, to reveal unexpected beauty in ordinary materials.
For his solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary he visited industries in the East Midlands. His visit to the Rolls Royce factory in Derby focused on the composition and treatment of metals in different states. New works made for his exhibition here reflect this coming together of high tech and heavy metal. As in his other work, Hefti refers to processes that otherwise remain invisible, but which form the crucial substructure of contemporary culture.
For the huge photograms shown in this exhibition, Hefti dusts standard photo paper with “witch powder” or Lycopodium – moss spores that light up when they are set on fire, directly exposing the photosensitive paper. The results are compellingly beautiful explosions of colour that look like images of the cosmos – the fabric of our world.
Hefti’s iridescent glass pane sculptures, each unique, are made from special anti-reflective glass, commonly used to protect artworks and intended to be invisible. By multiplying the anti-reflective coating, Hefti renders the invisible visible. After a lengthy research phase in the workshop, he has intervened in the process of manufacture to create what is “his” product.
Recent solo exhibitions include CAPC Bordeaux (2013), Camden Arts Centre, London (2012) and SALTS, Basel (2012). In 2012 he won the Swiss Art Award national prize.