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Installation view "Candids", Kunsthaus Grenchen 2020.

Yves Scherer is fascinated by the boundaries that separate and merge the public and private spheres of human interaction. Along with concepts such as reality, virtuality, fan fiction, alterity, and appropriation, the public and the personal are recurring themes in Scherer’s work. Thus, in some of his latest sculptures in painted aluminum, the artist transforms private moments and presents them as a public sculptural reality. As part of his ongoing lenticular series, Yves creates alternate realities for celebrities who belong to the public sphere of the “Hollywood star system,” which he integrates into his personal narrative. By playing with these themes and switching from one sphere to the other, Scherer shows the permeability between the two spheres, which ultimately influence each other: “I play with it in a certain way: I mix images I took on a family vacation with a photo Mario Sorrenti took of Kate Moss many years ago when they were lovers.”

Currently, Scherer is less interested in commercial shoots or advertising campaigns that serve as the basis for his narratives. However, when he began using the lenticular printing technique to create two-dimensional, moving images, he appropriated the work of well-known fashion photographers like Josh Olins and Vincent Peters, whose technique was impeccable and whose goal was to carefully frame and compose a controlled reality. Similarly, his earlier sculptures featured celebrities such as Johnny Depp, Kate Moss and Emma Watson in their public roles. The sculptures served as the basis for a fictional narrative about his relationships with these personalities, which were objectified.

This shift is noticeable. While Scherer’s sculptures in 2014 depicted a Greek-inspired nude female body with the face of Emma Watson, seven years later, in 2021, his sculptures have begun to depict everyday moments, such as a boy leaning over to pick a bouquet of flowers, a mother carrying her little girl, or a hand petting a cat. The sculptures of these new representations are anonymous models: they no longer depict the face of a famous person. “My most recent sculpture involves the relationship between two figures in one work. They often don’t show celebrities anymore, but certain archetypes like ‘the boy,’ ‘the mother,’ ‘the girl,’ and ‘the cat’ … the sculpture is less about one figure and more about the relationship between two figures within a sculpture.”

In his latest lenticular works, Scherer continues to use celebrity imagery, but differently. He now combines their portraits with natural and urban landscapes, colorful flowers, cute panda bears and modern architecture. So it’s not just about the lives of these people as celebrities, but about people who can live in an alternative reality where the world is beautiful, loving and peaceful. When asked about his interest in the lives of people from the star system, Scherer replied, “Although I’ve never been interested in glamour, I’ve always had a special interest in celebrity culture and Hollywood personalities…. America has shaped the cultural landscape so much in the last few decades that you always feel marginalized in Europe. That’s why I always thought I needed to look to the United States to understand what was actually ‘happening’ and interesting there.” For his lenticular works, Scherer has worked with the image of a limited number of people: from Monica Belluci to Laetitia Casta, Vincent Cassel, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Moss, Kirsten Stewart and Emma Watson. We asked him if he uses a specific method in selecting the personalities for each work, and he told us that there is none, but that “there is an explanation for the selection of each character.” They “are stars in various fields who serve as role models in the entertainment industry, providing us with stories, histories and characters that we can use as guides in our personal lives.”

Scherer moved to the U.S. eight years ago, and his interest in celebrity culture has changed since then. In his work, celebrity culture has become “less a personal interest than a tool or motif…. People always say celebrities are like normal people, and everyone thinks, ‘Yeah, but…’ And then, when you go to the same everyday environments and places [wie die Prominenten], you realize that they’re really just normal people. Hollywood is then only a sign”. However, through the construction of specific personalities and the subsequent creation of narratives and stories about their lives, such a star system becomes part of the social imaginary. And it is precisely because of this, because of the social and media reach of the entertainment industry, that Scherer appropriates the image of these celebrities. For the artist, Hollywood may only be the sign of an ordinary place – commonplace, says Scherer – but it is also a symbolic place where character constructions are fabricated for mass consumption.

Casa Pedregal, 2023 KT board, light jet print, lenticular lens, acrylic glass, artist's frame 163 × 123 × 6 cm; 64 1/4 × 48 1/2 × 2 1/3 in Courtesy the artist

We have already mentioned that Scherer is interested in concepts such as reality and fiction. What is real and what is not? Is there a simple way to define a particular narrative as real? Or is part of the definition of “narrative” the possibility of creating a fictional reality? For him, his works, especially the lenticular ones, condense the larger narratives that often run through his exhibitions. “Most of my past exhibitions, for example, involve a small love story or a romantic relationship between two or more figures in the exhibition. Often they are figurative sculptures that are part of an installation that may include landscape paintings or other works as background. The way I see it, the lenticular works do the same thing, but within the work itself. There’s the beautiful background, which is sometimes the architecture of Luis Barragán or, more recently, the Swiss mountain flowers that I’ve photographed myself. And then sometimes there are two figures within the work, or only one figure, and the other is implied.” The lenticular technique allows Scherer to construct a specific narrative by inserting the image of real, tangible people, places, and nature into a fictional world he creates.

Scherer decided to start using lenticular technology in 2015. The first work was a piece consisting of two paintings of Emma Watson made for an exhibition in Alabama. He chose Emma Watson because for him “she is a contemporary icon in the religious sense. The way saints used to be painted and now they are seen in the windows of churches. So I created a version of it for our time”. After this initial approach to lenticular printing, Scherer began to include himself in the images, creating personal narratives that transcended his life and work because they were connected to the lives of celebrities. So what drew Scherer to lenticular printing? “… at the end of the day, it’s the magic that matters to me…. It still feels like magic to me.” After years of working with this medium, Scherer has mastered it; he knows exactly how it works, what its possibilities and limitations are, and he knows what to expect as a final result: “It was a very, very, very, very long road to what you see in my latest work. From digitally editing each image to nesting them, finding the best printing methods and techniques, choosing lenses and alignment, choosing glue, and learning the best mounting techniques.” Despite his familiarity with the medium, the artist consistently feels that “the actual experience of a finished and framed work is so much greater than the sum of its parts,” and is “pleasantly surprised on almost every occasion.”

Scherer’s latest stories are about beautiful, quiet, fictional worlds. Scherer was born in Switzerland in 1987, but now lives in New York City. We asked him if he misses anything from his life in Switzerland, and he replied, “Yes, I miss the mountains in the summer, and I miss swimming in the lakes or the river after lunch or in the morning. It makes a big difference in the quality of life to be in a natural landscape that doesn’t feel poisoned.” Scherer began incorporating natural landscapes into his lenticular work several years ago. Why is that? He mentioned to us – and he has said this in previous interviews – that when he includes a flower in the work, it feels like he is offering it to the people portrayed photographically and sculpturally as an -extension of himself and a gesture of love. By using images of various flowers, animals, and natural landscapes and inserting them into his lenticular works, Scherer attempts to create an alternative reality not only for the people depicted and the viewers of the work, but also for himself. It is perhaps not an over-interpretation to say that Scherer needs to find an alternative world that feels natural and safe – like the Swiss mountains and lakes – as opposed to the urban city, which is polluted and crowded and often turns its back on nature. Through the creation of his latest works, this is possible for him.

To conclude our conversation, we asked Scherer what he thinks about virtuality. “I’m having a hard time grasping this concept. What state is currently the opposite of ‘virtual’: physical?” Like many of us, Scherer carries his phone everywhere, in his case around his neck. He jokes that he has already become a cyborg because virtuality has become part of his physical body – a process he sees as the natural next step in our evolution. “Reality is now a blend of our virtual reality and our physical reality. In most everyday situations, virtual reality is more important than physical reality, and you could easily argue that it’s also a bigger part of our identity.”

We agree with Scherer that virtuality is indeed an extension of us, a part of who we are, and thus a part of our identity. We can now build virtual relationships that are not just fictional, but real. In this sense, “virtuality” is not the antithesis of “reality” but another way of perceiving and living our lives. Virtuality as an alternative dimension can also be inhabited. If we were to create an alternate reality-not necessarily virtual, or at least not complete-we would be supporting Scherer’s ideal of creating a beautiful, safe world where everyone can become a part of it and construct various forms of interaction within the universe of entities that share common space and time.

What if Yves made applejuice, 2021 Paint and lacquer on aluminum 145 × 85 × 70 cm; 57 × 33 1/2 × 27 1/2 in Courtesy the artist and Galerie Guido W. Baudach Berlin