A large water-filled artwork shaped like a star with a kayak in the middle.

Roman Signer, “Wasserinstallation”, 1999. Courtesy Bonnefanten Maastricht, collection Bonnefanten. Photo: Helene Toresdotter

Roman Signer

3.6 – 10.9 2023

In a career spanning over fifty years, Roman Signer has redefined what sculpture can be by working with materials in various time-based processes. Signer’s work has come to represent a distinct style within the genre of sculpture, and he is now considered one of the leading representatives of process and conceptual art. This exhibition at Malmö Konsthall is Signer’s first major solo exhibition in Sweden and presents works and films from his entire career, from the 1970s to the present day.

The creation of time sculptures

Roman Signer’s artistic practice is prolific and characterised by curiosity, ingenuity and playfulness. Concepts such as time, movement and gravity are crucial elements in the creation of the dynamic sculptures he calls “Zeitskulpturen”, time sculptures. The time sculptures often only last a few seconds and explore how physical matter is affected by laws of gravity, natural forces and motor energies. Classic base elements such as fire, wind and water are combined with easily recognisable everyday objects – umbrellas, kayaks, tables, boots and barrels – and interact in split-second processes.

Ingenious humor, tension and surprise

Many of the objects can be seen in multiple works. Signer uses tension and surprise to expose the objects to various processes – pyrotechnics, kinetic energy and aerodynamics. In Signer’s work, the viewer can observe and examine the relationship between order and chaos, between stillness and sudden eruptions of energy. The ingenious humour that shapes the artist’s work arises through the context, the framing and the exposure of objects to unexpected potentials for development.

The first major solo exhibition in Sweden

Signer mainly works with sculpture, photography and video. The exhibition at Malmö Konsthall is Roman Signer’s first major solo exhibition in Sweden. It presents works from his entire career, from the 1970s to the present day, including two new works produced specifically for the exhibition at Malmö Konsthall. The exhibition includes around twenty sculptural works together with around seventy filmed documentations of his sculptural processes. In homage to Signer’s celebrated past participations in outdoor sculpture exhibitions, including “Documenta 8” in Kassel and Skulptur Projekte Münster, four of the artist’s works will be installed in Pildammsparken as part of the exhibition. The selection has been made in close dialogue with the artist and is based on the works’ connection to weather conditions and the properties of water.

Louisiana Channel interviewed Roman Signer on-site at Malmö Konsthall. See the film here.

Roman Signer (born in Appenzell, Switzerland, 1938) has lived and worked in St. Gallen, Switzerland since 1971. He studied at the Schule für Gestaltung, Zurich, Switzerland (1966), Schule für Gestaltung, Lucerne, Switzerland (1969–71) and Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland (1971–72). Signer’s work has been presented at prestigious international venues such as Skulptur Projekte Münster, Germany (1987), Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987) and the Venice Biennale, Italy (1999).

Since the 1970s, Signer has had several solo exhibitions including the following:

  • FRAC Franche-Comté, Besançon, Frankrike (2022)
  • Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (2018/1998/1993)
  • Kunsthal Aarhus, Danmark (2017)
  • Barbican Centre, London, England (2015)
  • KINDL Zentrum für zeitgenössische Kunst, Berlin (2014)
  • CAFA Art Museum, Peking, Kina (2014)
  • Swiss Institute, New York (2010)
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Skottland (2007)
  • OK Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz, Österrike (2005)
  • Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (2003)
  • Camden Arts Centre, London, England (2001)
  • Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Nederländerna (2000)
  • Wiener Secession, Wien, Österrike (1999)
  • Galleri Slunkaríki, Ísafjörður, Island (1996)

Porträtt av konstnären Roman Signer, en av hans skulpturer syns suddigt i bakgrunden.
Portrait Roman Signer. Photo: Stefan Rohner
Water spraying from a pair of rubber boots standing on sandy ground.

Roman Signer. “Wasserstiefel”, 1986
Photo: Marek Rogowiec
Two skis with swimming puffs in a pond where reeds are visible in the background.
Roman Signer, “Ski”, 2000.
Photo Helene Toresdotter