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Rolf Iseli

Rolf Iseli

*  1934 Bern

Rolf Iseli was born in Bern, Switzerland, on 22 January XXX. After training in photolithography and colour lithography while attending the Bern School for the Decorative and Applied Arts, Iseli was given a travel scholarship for a year in Paris. There Iseli became acquainted with Sam Francis and other young US artists and did drawings in India ink on celluloid for abstract art films as well as canvases in large formats that are stylistically in the Informel vein. After returning to Switzerland, where he had his first one-man show at Galerie 33 in Bern, Iseli was given a cantonal art scholarship in 1957. In 1961 Iseli bought a house and some land in Saint-Romain (Burgundy) and lived between France and Switzerland. In 1962 Iseli spent some time in New York with Arnold Rüdlinger and Kurt Blum. Iseli paid extensive studio visits to American artists. In 1965 Iseli returned to lithography, doing his last oil paintings for the time being in 1966. During the years that followed Iseli created an extensive œuvre of prints that included outsize drypoint etchings and lithographs as well as prints worked over with earth, a fascinating technique inspired by working in his own vineyard at Saint-Romain. Iseli now embarked on new departures, employing new, reifying techniques to collage, relief and free-standing sculpture, objects and works cast in iron. Iseli's mastery of three-dimensional spatial design is most apparent in his iron objects. In 1976 Iseli spent six weeks travelling with his wife Thérèse in China. It was from that trip that Iseli brought back the red artists' stamp with his name in Chinese characters which would thenceforth be his trade mark. Iseli continued to work but also travelled extensively in the following years, in 1980 to Périgord, where he visited the caves of Rouffinac and Lascaux with their celebrated Upper Palaeolithic cave paintings and engravings. In 1983 Iseli travelled to New York, where a monumental show of his drypoint etchings was mounted at the Museum of Modern Art. Rolf Iseli now lives and works in Bern and Saint-Romain.