BIOGRAPHY

German visual artist Evi Keller was born in Bad Kissingen in 1968. She lives and works in Paris. From 1989 to 1993 she studied art history at the Ludwig Maximilian University and photography and graphic design at the Munich Academy of Photography in Germany.

Evi Keller in her studio, 2019

Her artistic approach questions the cosmic principle of the transformation of matter by light. In all her sculptural, pictorial, photographic, sound and performance work, the artist has tirelessly devoted herself to this transformational process, unifying its complexity under the term Matière-Lumière (Light-Matter).

Matière-Lumière is the only title that Evi Keller has given to all her works for the past 20 years.

The fact that all life on earth is impregnated with solar energy inspired the artist with a vision that unites the earth and the sun and has them evolve in a perpetual becoming — within time. It was essential for her to draw from this awareness and find a new artistic form to materialize the sun and its constant interaction with us, and eventually, beyond the symbol of the sun, to embody light in its physical and spiritual dimensions. Through her work, the artist wishes to materialize light, to preserve, amplify, and above all transmit this cosmic force, the energy of the celestial fire. “Matière-Lumière embodies the journey of the awareness of the power of light, not of outer light, but of the revolution of the inner light which the sun mirrors, to grow roots in a cosmic existence and become co-creator of a universal process,” says the artist.

In Evi Keller’s work, the principle of the four elements, fire, water, earth, and air, is omnipresent. The artist combines, among other things, pigments, minerals, plants, ash, ink, and varnish on thin layers of transparent plastic film that she superimposes, draws on, paints, engraves, scratches, erases, sculpts, and sometimes burns, exposes to the rays of the sun, to the rain and the wind, or covers with earth, in a cycle whose space and time, unique to each work, can draw over many months or years before finally being born. According to the artist, “it is ultimately the work that decides the timing of its birth.”

The transparent films used by Evi Keller constitute a nearly invisible and immaterial substance, and play an important role in light’s transmutation of the works into changing materials. They render the works alive through reflection, refraction, absorption, and transmission, allowing for an infinity of potential points of view and of works, depending on the light and the spectator’s position. ”I often feel that it is the mystical dimension of the solar star that guided me towards fossil fuel, a buried sun from which the plastic films that are the essential materials of my work are sprung. These films bear the memory of life. Issued from organic carbon, recycled for hundreds of millions of years deep inside the earth, they constitute a crucial link between the living and the atoms created in the heart of the stars. This memory, this fossilized light, and this link between heaven and earth inhabit my works, make them atemporal and alive… The substance of plastic films, an organic-synthetic material, is reanimated and transformed in the creative process, a restorative act which animates a healing cycle, similar to that of life-giving photosynthesis. […] (Evi Keller, ARTE TV, March 5, 2023, The sun: the planet in the arts, interview excerpts)

Evi Keller, Scenography Creation Matière-Lumière for the Dido and Aeneas opera by Purcell 2023

Evi Keller is represented by the Jeanne Bucher Jaeger gallery, which presents her work at exhibitions and fairs in France and abroad. Among the key events, the artist took part in the Nuit Blanche 2014 in Paris. The Gallery offered a collaboration to the artist, with a first large-scale solo exhibition from May to September 2015. The same year, the Maison Européenne de la Photographie presented the photographs and the audiovisual work Matière-Lumière [Towards the light-silent transformations], which then became part of the institution’s video art collection. A conference was devoted to the intersecting views on the works of Joseph Mallord, William Turner and Evi Keller on the occasion of the Lumières de la Vie series organized by the University of Paris Diderot. On the occasion of the closing ceremony of the Year of Light at the Hôtel de Ville de Paris in February 2015, the artist was invited to project an audiovisual work at the end of Hubert Reeves’ conference Giving People Back the Sky. The following year, an installation Matière-Lumière was presented at the Centrale for contemporary art in Brussels. As part of the exhibition of Dubuffet’s works at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a conference La matière au-delà du visible was held on Jean Dubuffet and Evi Keller. In 2017, philosopher and curator Joke Hermsen chose key works by Evi Keller for the exhibition Kairos Castle at Gaasbeek Castle in Belgium alongside Nicolas de Staël, Georgia Russell, Anri Sala, Hans Op de Beeck, Pipilotti Rist, Chiharu Shiota, Otobong Nkanga, Antony Gormley and Susumu Shingu. The artist also participated in the exhibition Passion de l’Art – Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, depuis 1925 at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, alongside Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst, Nicolas de Staël, Mark Tobey and Jean Dubuffet.

Over the past few years, the artist has also regularly collaborated with contemporary dancers and musicians. In 2018, she set out to deepen her links with the world of music and dance and chose to devote herself entirely to the creation of a monumental installation, the Performance Matière-Lumière (presented for Nuit Blanche at Église Saint-Eustache). In an initiation ritual in the tribal sense, the artist welcomed the spectator at the heart of the intimate and personal experience of the multiple visions of transmutation of matter through light. The performers [light, spectator, and artist] interacted in a transitional space to live through a few billion years in an instant.

From March to July 2021, the Jeanne Bucher Jaeger gallery devoted a new solo exhibition to her work, Stèles. From April 2022 to February 2023, Saison d’Art 2022, the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, Centre d’Arts et de Nature exhibited one of her major video works as well as a new monumental creation Matière-Lumière.

From March to April 2022, the artist was invited to the Teatros del Canal, Madrid, as part of the Festival Canal Connect, where she presented a performance and installation Matière-Lumière. From May 2022 to February 2023, Evi Keller was part of the exhibition L’arbre dans l’art contemporain, curated by Paul Ardenne in Pont-en-Royans.

In January 2023, Evi Keller was invited to design the sets for the opera Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, in collaboration with the choreographer Blanca Li and Les Arts Florissants, conducted by William Christie. Performances were held at the Teatros del Canal, Madrid, at the Théâtre Impérial – Opéra of Compiègne, at the Opéra Royal of Versailles and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.

Evi Keller has just won the 2023 Carta Bianca prize.

Evi Keller in her studio, 2023