Acrylic, variable size
Swiss Post Branch,
1200 Genève 1 Mont-Blanc
Entering the historic post office building on Rue du Mont-Blanc, visitors encounter a yellow circle stretching across the vault and columns of the counter hall. As they move further into the hall, the lines break up into seemingly random, distorted fragments. This effect occurs when the viewer leaves the ideal point of view for viewing the illusionistic paintings (there is one for each entrance). The distinguished Hôtel des postes was built in 1892 according to a Beaux-Arts design by John and Marc Camoletti, inspired by Roman antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Baroque. While the exterior is richly decorated with figures and friezes, the first artistic work in the interior was created by the artist Felice Varini as part of the listed building’s restoration in 1991.
Felice Varini (1952, Locarno) developed his signature painting style in the late-1970s, going beyond the canvas to paint in buildings or parts thereof; he has even used entire villages as a painting surface. Reversing the logic of the illusionist trompe-l’œil painting of the Renaissance, Varini creates two-dimensional illusions in three-dimensional space. His repertoire includes ovals, rectangles, trapezoids, zigzag lines, and spirals in red, blue, yellow, black, and white. Varini plays with the relationship between surface and space to explore the conditions of perception – an artistic focus that emerged during the 1960s and ‘70s.
To produce his works, Varini takes a viewpoint corresponding to his own body size. Then he projects the form into the room, traces its contours, and fills it in with paint or adhesive film. The work Hôtel des postes was the first public art-in-architecture commission he won through competition and was likely the impetus for further commissions he received. Although Varini develops his works for specific locations, they are not bound to them. Each piece is accompanied by a certificate specifying the installation conditions for any other situation imaginable for the artist.