The award worth CHF40,000 ($42,341) went to artist Marc Bauer, architects Barbara Buser and Eric Honegger and curator Koyo Kouoh.
Also known as the Grand Prix d’art or the Meret Oppenheim Prize, the honour is awarded to individuals in the fields of art, art education and architecture whose work is particularly topical and relevant to Swiss artistic and architectural production. The laureates were selected in late 2019 by the Federal Art Commission and the decision was announced on Friday by the Federal Office of Culture.
Marc Bauer from Geneva, a professor of painting and drawing at the Zurich University of the Arts, has been working for more than two decades with a focus on contemporary history. A graduate of the École supérieure d’art visuel in Geneva and the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam, Bauer has presented his work in numerous national and international exhibitions. He has already received the Swiss Art Prize three times in 2001, 2005 and 2006.
“Drawing is not only the primary medium of Marc Bauer, it is also the message. Sketch-like or hatched passages, subtle chiaroscuro, stark black and white contrasts form imagery which appears and hints at history. Imagery which follows the medium’s ambivalence: precision in the formal realization and the circling of the imaginary. This is what makes for the specific quality of the work of Marc Bauer,” said a jury statement released on Friday.
Fellow laureates, architectural duo Barbara Buser and Eric Honegger, are known for their pioneering work in the field of sustainability. In the field of building transformation and renovation, they have reimagined the urban structure of entire neighbourhoods.
“Modesty and a focus on the essential characterise their interventions which, in an intelligent and innovative manner, put into practise principles of modularity, recycling and restructuring and have thus entered into the zeitgeist,” said the jury.
Internationally active curator Koyo Kouoh was born in Cameroon and grew up in Switzerland. She reflects on cultural institutions in emerging countries in her curatorial work. Kouoh was director as the Raw Material Company contemporary art centre in Dakar, which she founded in 2008. Since 2019 she has been director of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town.
“As a curator and critic, as well as a founder of cultural institutions, she has devised new ways of presenting and disseminating art and made a lasting contribution to bringing the art from the African continent into a global context,” said the jury.
The Swiss Art Awards exhibition, which normally takes place as part of Art Basel, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. All the finalists of the Swiss Grand Award for Art and their works will be presented on an online platform. The winners will be honoured together with those of the Swiss Grand Prix for Design at an event this autumn.swissinfo.ch/ac