The vibrant art scene of Gstaad-Saanenland
Gstaad and its surrounding villages are home to a surprisingly wide variety of art galleries. Over 20 sites exhibit works ranging from Saanenland Scherenschnitten (paper cuttings) to renowned 20th century masters. Ober-Gstaad has the highest density of artwork in Saanenland and Pays d’Enhaut. In keeping with its location right next to the Gstaad Molkerei, the Adler gallery is currently exhibiting cows painted in a patriotic Swiss red. Another highlight is Walter Schlup’s plexiglass photo-art. Adler’s neighboring gallery, Patricia Low Contemporary, is quite literally hosting Christian Ward. Ward is the artist in residence at the newly set up Artist’s Chalet in Château-d’Oex. Low is also portraying Dan Holdsworth’s island photography, which focuses on the intricacies of nature’s beauty.
Galerie Lovers of Fine Art can be found just off Gstaadplatz, behind the von Siebenthal housewares store. It has been 15 years since owner Irène Schönholzer first presented celebrated classical and contemporary masters to the Gstaad audience. This season’s artist is Cecile Wyck, a photographer who has successfully exhibited her work in galleries around the world. In the same part of town, Simple Gallery distinguishes itself by showcasing new artists. Apart from Greg Holt and Harald Reichenbach who have become regulars, the gallery also holds exhibitions showing works by such undiscovered talents as Nicolas Bernière. Bernière does away with profane picture frames, creating windows through which one can inspect his work.
If, on the other hand, local art is your thing then there is just as much choice. Chäller Gallery exhibits Scherenschnitten by many local artists. Beatrice Straubhaar and her mother Elisabeth Bottesi-Fischer, Wendy Perren-Novell and Heinz Pfister all have a wide variety of works on display. Ranging from classical landscapes to modern, abstract and colorful cuts, these artists have brought a traditional Swiss handicraft to life. One can even watch them at work on Friday afternoons. Staying on the local scene, Atelier d’Artiste, a gallery opposite the Grand Hotel Bellevue, is home to a number of works in progress. Herbert Buchs, the local artist on display welcomes onlookers whilst he is at work. In turn, Oskar Buchs is exhibiting a selection of his oil paintings at his own gallery in Gschwend. Guerino Pathenghi in Château-d’Oex is celebrating his gallery’s 20th anniversary. Some of the major artists they have showcased in the past have returned, including Anne Rosat, Isabelle Villancourt, Giuseppe Rivieri and Piero Mosti.
In Rossinière, visitors can enjoy the Fondation Balthus exhibition A Kingdom of Cats, currently on display at the Grand Chalet. Before his death in 2001, Balthus was the only living grand master to have his paintings exhibited at the Louvre.
For exquisite antiques, Saanenland is also a place of plenty. Urs von Unger, the Saaner antiques merchant, boasts the region’s oldest antique, a 225 million year-old petrified wood fossil that has been molded into wood-shaped sculptures ideal for interior decoration. The Atelier für Buch und Bild in Gstaad also displays some artistic decorative features. Pays d’Enhaut's equivalent to von Unger is Allegri Antiquités in Flendruz, with its collection of intricately-decorated Swiss farmhouse dressers from the 16th and 18th centuries.
Art in Saanenland is not limited to permanent galleries. With Christian Lapie’s large black sculptures, Caroline and Eric Freymond once again present exceptional art in Chalet Farb, Saanen. The old building was renovated a few years back and has become an attraction in its own right. The exhibited sculptures give the place its special feel. With their rough features, the sculptures cannot be pinned to any particular culture; instead they symbolize the bridge between them. The exhibition is open on request until the end of October.