Betts Project is pleased to announce Drawings and Small Tables, the third major solo exhibition of Peter Märkli in the UK and at the gallery. This special exhibition will present a series of new and existing work consisting of 25 drawings and 7 small tables by the Swiss architect in the gallery’s up and downstairs spaces. The exhibiton will be accompanied by an exhibtion catalogue.
Each time I see a new set of drawings made by Peter Märkli, whether they are made as design drawings for a project, or as speculative elevation studies, or ‘language drawings’, I am thrilled and amazed again by the freedom and delight that they have been made with. It is a mystery to me (and perhaps to Peter) - just how and where does he start when making one of these drawings? The recent language drawings that have been selected for this exhibition are as exciting, bold and full of charm as all those that came before. They are made as a series of studies about how a simple rectangular building elevation, slightly taller than it is wide, might be given a certain architectural order, rhythm and satisfying set of proportional relations. They are usually drawn with two contrasting colours, or simply with pencil lines that demark where one tectonic element with a colour and material quality would join with another. Perhaps as a way of remaining free and with a fresh imaginative spirit, we sometimes find unexpected zig-zag forms, or large curved lines in previous studies. In a few of the drawings here this open spirit of play and wit can be seen in many ways. The elevation studies with large black circles arranged in relation to black rectangles and small squares, or the subtle and highly imaginative searching for relationships between vertical pilaster elements and the space they make on the wall and with the door are evidence of Märkli’s continuing imaginative search for a language of his own.
In this third exhibition of the works of Peter Märkli at Betts Project gallery in London, we are being presented with a series of painted wooden table objects, that probably few people have ever seen before. I remember seeing one of these in Peter’s studio in Zurich years ago, piled with books and things. I assume they were made years ago. They are another example of Märkli’s free-thinking delightful way of working that does not seem to be commissioned by any client or brief or specific use. The contrasting painted surfaces remind me of painted wooden African masks or wooden foot stools made by people living in the tropical forests of the Amazon. They have a deep spirit and authenticity that we find in ancient cultures – truly delightful.
Philip Christou, September 2020