In 2018 at London’s Sadie Coles HQ, Urs Fischer showed a replica of Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss built in stiff white Plasticine. Unlike most works of sculpture, particularly those in fragile materials, visitors were invited to touch and even modify the work. The adjustments were initially modest and reverential – names or doodles scratched into the surface with a fingernail – but the sculpture soon underwent dramatic reconfigurations. The faces were remodelled, an arm ripped off. Reduced again to a raw material, the modelling clay started to migrate around the room, reborn on the walls, floor and window as new words and figures. A few visitors attempted to heal the embracing figures, sticking the arm back in place, smoothing things over, but there was no returning to the glossy perfection of the untouched work.
The entropy incarnated in Fischer’s mutable version of The Kiss finds an echo in the artist’s own interrogation of ideas and enthusiasms, which he pursues doggedly until they, too, disintegrate. A few years ago he was fascinated by cinema. “I used to watch up to three movies a day,” recalls the Swiss-born artist. Fischer eventually became so suffused in this flood of cinematic information that he hypersensitized himself to the formulaic nature of almost everything he watched. “It kind of dismantled itself,” he says. “Now I’m not so easily fooled.” In place of watching movies, Fischer has returned to drawing. He has two young daughters, and admits that “as a parent, evenings can be long. I work on my phone a lot – I make pretty elaborate drawings on it. I have a few hundred by now. There are some from life, but they’re mostly made up.” Fischer’s exhibitions tend to remain unfixed until the eleventh hour, but his current plan is for these drawings to be the foundation of his show at the Modern Institute during the Glasgow International Festival in April. The question on his mind is how to get them off the phone. Perhaps they could be reincarnated as silkscreen prints? Or maybe lithographs? “We’ll figure it out,” he says.