Swiss filmmaker Georges Schwizgebel is regarded to be one of the most important characters of contemporary artistic animation. In last year’s edition of Etiuda&Anima festival his movie “Erlking” was honoured with the Golden Dinosaur in the ANIMA part of the contest. This year he is going to visit us as a leader of jury in ANIMA contest, but also as a self-portraitist in our cycle “Self-Portraits of Animation Authors”
Georges Schwizgebel is the author of 19 films, repeatedly awarded at international festivals. He finished his studies in Geneva in 1965, and soon after, in 1971, with Daniel Suter and Claud Luyet, he established studio G.D.S. producing animations and creating graphic designing.
Lack of dialogues, omnipresent music, poetic surrealism based on constant motion, changes of shapes and colours, night dream poetics, confluence of reality and imagination or dream, as well as expressive colouring, visual erudition and musical sensitivity – these are all characteristic of Schwizgebel’s animations. When asked about the essential elements of his work, he lists music, then movement and image, and, lastly, the story. Music, mainly the classical one, sometimes inspires the Swiss artist and becomes a topic of his films such as in the case of Rided to the Abyss (1992), based on an opera by Hector Berlioz, Romance (Romans, 2011) inspired by a Rachmaninov’s sonata, or the latest Erlking (Erlkönig, 2015) based on Goethe with the music by Schubert and List. Music never illustrates what is on the screen. It is the image, shaped according to musical principles, rhythm, tempo, that is the visual equivalent of a piece of music. Be that 78 Rotations per minute (1985), the abstract Fugue (1998), or Play (Jeu, 2006) in which Schwizgebel synthesizes some parts of his previous films – what makes the images move in all these films is music.
Photo from the film “Erlking”
The musical visuality of Schwizgebel’s films is deeply expressive, the movement is almost tangible, often so dynamic that it can make one’s head spin. The images are “played” on the screen just as sounds are played on an instrument, the characters whirl while dancing (common motif), shapes and colours permeate each other. Schwizgebel, describing the method of making his films, stressed the process of imagining movement in space. In his early works such as Perspectives (1975) and Off-side (Hors-jeu, 1977) he used rotoscoping, which he soon after abandoned for not being spatial enough for his concept of movement.
Schwizgebl’s film output is inextricably connected with painting. He consequently rejects computer animation techniques, considering himself an artisan and artist, who takes constant pleasure from painting. To prove it he makes two films – The Subject of the Picture (Le sujet du tableau, 1989) and Retouches (2008), in which the artist’s brush strokes bring the images to life. The first of the two, many times awarded, is a specific tribute to director’s painting inspirations, whose artistic sensitivity was influenced by such artists as Vermeer, Michelangelo, Chirico, Hopper, Marquet, Holder, Valloton, Corot, Chardin, Ingres, Friedrich, or Beckmann. In his work, the artist makes use of various art techniques: oil paint, gouache, pastels, crayons, acrylic, and even parts of cut-outs. He often combines them in order to visually differentiate the changing levels of narration, for instance, in Romance, a multilevel story about an encounter of two strangers.
Photo from the film “Rided to the Abyss“
Finely woven of sound, motion and colour, Schwizgebl’s work is invitation to an extraordinary journey of senses, in which the boundaries between what is visible and what is audible melt; where the“real” and “imaginary” merge into what is “experienced”.
Self-Portraits of Animation Authors III – Georges Schwizgebel
26th November (Saturday), 7:00 pm
Kijów Centrum – Main Room