His favourite playing fields are nature, time and space, while objects making up the banal form the core of his “actions-sculptures ”. Yet despite the obviousness and simplicity of his interventions, confining him to one or another category of art is no easy task. His work is indeed part and parcel of the genealogy of Land Art, with his short-lived actions taking place out in the middle of natural landscapes, yet it shares something of performance, too, and a certain history of the absurd by way of a quick detour amongst the Dadaists.
Born in Appenzell in 1938, Signer comes late to the fine arts, taking a rather roundabout way to get there. After training as a radio engineer in Saint Gall, he works for several years as an architectural draughtsman, then begins studies at Zurich’s School of the Applied Arts and Lucerne’s School of Design. In 1971 he moves to Poland, where he studies at Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts.
Two years after that, back in Switzerland, Signer mounts his first monographic show, at a gallery in Saint Gall, an event that launches his career. His work in sculpture rapidly takes shape around the phenomenon of explosions, with the artist using a Super-8 camera to record their effect and results. His particular understanding of sculpture – a kind of bursting out in space and time – has made him one of Switzerland’s most singular and respected artists in recent decades. Roman Signer, who regularly exhibits in Europe and the United States, has shown his work at Documenta 8 in Kassel in 1987 and Münster’s Skulptur Projekte in 1997. He represented Switzerland at the 1999 Venice Biennale.