A hymn to nature

A selection of nature-inspired works of art by Basel-based artist Mireille Gros will go on display in ETH Zurich’s Collection of Prints and Drawings from 7 May to 6 July.

Mysterious shadowy plants, velvety ferns and delicate tendrils: the Collection of Prints and Drawings at ETH Zurich contains more than one hundred works of art by Mireille Gros (born in 1954). The exhibition, entitled «Ouvrir les archives» («Opening up the archives»), presents an overview of pieces by the artist which have been collected over the past twenty years. These include not only prints, but also drawings and artist’s books.

The exhibition will also feature the series of books entitled «La vie en gros», which comprises 144 volumes. Mireille Gros began filling the first volume back in the 1980s and each book contains items such as experimental drawings, notes or dried flowers.

Prompted by a visit to the rainforest

«Every day, a plant or a flower disappears. Every day, I discover a new plant», this Basel-based artist once noted. Mireille Gros’ intensive exploration of aspects surrounding primary developmental forms was inspired by her visit to the rainforest of the Ivory Coast in 1992. This was followed by further, longer trips to Mali and China, where she always took a keen interest in the local culture and nature and even collected native plants she encountered there.

Mireille Gros’ scintillatingly colourful series of works and technically complex one-off pieces are the results of experimenting with an etching needle. Since the mid-1990s she has regularly made use of the generous facilities and professional support provided by the «Atelier de gravure» in Moutier, in the canton of Bern. Together with the printer Michèle Dillier, she devised a new form of printing involving plants, whereby parts of plants are pressed into a soft-ground block and embellished by Gros to create fantastical floral formations.

Inspired by chance

Taking an unconventional, situation-based approach, Mireille Gros constantly tries out possible variations during the printing process, incorporating the natural oxidation traces of the printing plates into her work, giving images a sense of depth by building up different-coloured layers, or working with hand-tinted overprinting. She is also happy to simply let herself be inspired by chance.

The exhibition opens at 6.00 pm on 6 May and the works will remain on display until 6 July 2014.


The exhibition will be accompanied by the following publication: MIREILLE GROS - OUVRIR LES ARCHIVES, with a text by Alexandra Barcal. Petersberg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2014; approx. 70 pages, 49 colour illustrations, CHF 24.00, ISBN 978-3-7319-0051-1; Special edition including an original print: limited edition of 12, CHF 280.00

Andrea Schmits