Sarah Margnetti

Receiving her BA from ECAL in Lausanne and her Masters from HEAD in Geneva, Sarah Margnetti went on to get a technical training at the Van der Kelen-Logelain Institute in Brussels. Founded in 1882, it’s also one of the few places where art education is not about free expression, but about learning one strict, ancient discipline. Mastering the technique of trompe l’oeil, Margnetti has developed a virtuous painting style that combines optical illusions and abstract motives. Since then the painter exhibited her works at Deborah Bowmann gallery, Brussels, at Performance Proletarians, a project by Lili Reynaud Dewar and Benjamin Valenza at the Swiss Institute Rome, and at Urgent Paradise, Lausanne.
“Margnetti’s signature use of yellow refers to the original colour of an emoticon. Made of punctuation marks, this digital equivalent of an emotion allows for a wordless communication, and is arguably devoid of any actual sentiments. […] Though trained in producing trompe l’oeil, —a hyperreal style of painting ultimately meant to deceive perception— Margnetti’s wood and marble surfaces deliberately fail to render the impression of the materials they’re emulating. This controlled failure allows a progression from concrete meaning to an abstract rendering of emotions, where the signifier shifts away from the signified.” Elise Lammer for the exhibition Soulless Skin at Salts, 2017.


SAA: Would you tell us something about the artwork you will present at the Swiss Art Awards 2018?

SM: Noses, ears, mouths, feet, legs, hands, butts, boobs or nails have been the main characters of my murals so far.

For the Swiss Art Awards, I am going to present a big painting on wooden panels where fragmented parts of the body will lurk their way into the picture. Using separate parts of the body helps me create a kind of surrealist narration.

SAA: Which worlds does your work involve, address, and how?

SM: I like to see my work as a sensitive painting experience in space, an experience limited in time, programmed to disappear when the show ends. I’ve developed a strange affection for murals knowing that it will not last forever and that there will be only photographs remaining.

Making murals requires also a strong physical commitment that probably emphasizes the emotional attachment to it.

SAA: If you could work with a specialist, from which field would that be and on what kind of project?

SM: In Brussels I studied at a school dedicated to decorative painting. There I learned how to master imitating wood, marble and other traditional techniques. I’ve been using the skills I acquired in my work and I don’t feel the need to work with any specialists for the moment. Actually, over the last two years I have been working myself as a specialist for other artists. Travelling with my brushes and painting directly on sites using all those techniques. It’s a job that I really enjoy having on the side and it also nourishes my own work. 

SAA: What is the mark you want to leave behind?

SM: I like to think that all those murals (whether it’s my own work or paintings I did for others) are still there, under new layers of white painting, haunting spaces.