Contemporary Myths from the Arabian Gulf.

The exhibition (Evaporating Suns. Contemporary Myths from the Arabian Gulf) considers an approach of corresponding positions highlighting the spectrum between myth and fact.

The title originates from the contradiction ‘evaporating’, the change process from liquid to gas. The sun is the permanent, unchanged factor, the source of life.

The spectrum is introduced via the stories passed through oral histories between generations. The Arabian Sea defines the geographical boundaries of the Arabian Gulf and points to various cultural nuances shared across the peninsula.

The title and the exhibition aim to introduce an unorthodox landscape, a new composition created by modifying and fusing the surrounding realities, highlighting the pull between myth and fact.

Abdullah AlOthman, (1985), The Legend of Zahwa. Commissioned by Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger I KBH.G.

Its manifestation has been presented in the exhibition through expressions of local natural and built environments, social arrangements and structures and perspective negotiations.

The Fact becomes the framework that dissolves and demystifies. Myth plays a formative role in understanding the law of time and the changes marked through its passing in relation to place.

Alaa Edris (1986), Al Kursi (the Chair). Commissioned by Kulturstiftung Basel H. Geiger I KBH.G.

The Famous Residents of Château de Prangins

Affiche de l'exposition 'Galeries des portraits'', Foto/Photo: Musée national suisse Château de Prangins

François Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire (1694-1778), Jacques Necker (1732-1804), Charles-Jules Guiguer (1780-1840), William Beckford (1760-1844), Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844), Katharine McCormick (1875-1967) and Bernie Cornfeld (1927-1995) are amongst the well-known figures who have lived or stayed at Château de Prangins (canton of Vaud), one of the three national museums of the country.

Other residents of the castle were the members of the Moravian Brethren, one of the oldest protestant organisations, founded in 1457, long before the statements of Martin Luther in 1517!

They lived in the castle between 1873 and 1920. They were a Christian community originally from Bohemia and Moravia (present-day Czech Republic). From 1739 onwards, they established themselves in German-speaking Switzerland to escape the catholic Habsburg rule. 1873 they moved to Château de Prangins, remaining there until 1920. Their history is one of the fascinating stories of the exposition.

The exhibition ‘Galérie des portraits’. Copyright: ©Musée national suisse

In the large hallway on the first floor, these former inhabitants reappear to surprise visitors and recount anecdotes. Historically, the gallery of a stately home links separate wings together and acts as a place of transition between different spaces.

Often sizeable, it became somewhere to stretch one’s legs or walk around when the weather was terrible. Since it was an area that everybody had to pass through, it was frequently used to hang family portraits for all to gaze at. These former functions are respected but addressed in a contemporary way.

Bringing together the above individuals from the past, this permanent exhibition (Portrait Gallery) also sets out to recreate the castle’s sense of place or soul, shaped by all those who lived, wrote, dreamed, wept, studied or collected there. In an interactive presentation, visitors will learn about the lives and stories of these personalities in their historical context.

The exhibition ‘Galérie des portraits’. Copyright: ©Musée national suisse

Potraits and Tronies in Dutch Art from the Golden Age

Box with Axe (1645). Kunst Museum Winterthur, Reinhart am Stadtgarten.
The Dutch art theorist and painter Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-1687) described in his book ‘Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst’  (1678) the human face as a “mirror of the mind”. He even thought he could read a person’s character from his or her features.
Faces also play an important role in painting. Thus, the faces painted in the Netherlands in the 17th century reflect many facets of human physiognomy in individual portraits. Just as they individually strive to reflect the reality of the life of a portrayed personality, they can, in combination, reflect the history of an entire society.

The human face became a theme in Dutch Baroque painting independently of the representative task of portrait art. As distinctive character heads with pronounced facial features, a new type of figure painting established itself.

Old and young people in plain clothes or extravagant costumes up to the self-representation of an artist were the preferred subjects, without the depicted being fixed to a certain role and identity.

In contrast to status portraits, which were commissioned works staging the status and rank of the models, faces sound out the spectrum of human expression.

Jacob Backer’s (1608-1651) recently acquired portrait of a boy with an axe(1645) is shown for the first time in the bilingual exhibition (Geschichten in Geschichtern. Porträt und Tronie in der niederländischen Kunst). Paintings by artists such as Ferdinand Bol, Samuel van Hoogstraten, and Jan Lievens are grouped around it, presented in an exquisite selection of historical, genre, and self-portraits by Rembrandt.