Swiss artist Zoe Byland’s art invites us into a haunting monochromatic world where her portrayals of young subjects defy our sense of space and time. They are equally timeless and futuristic, evoking vintage photographs of a mysterious, yet playful other-world where goldfish fly and people wear bubble shaped space helmets. In part inspired by 19th century family photographs, her characters have been described as apparitions or even supernatural, products of Byland’s imagination, whose head is perpetually in the clouds.
Byland’s works combine traditional painting techniques with airbrushing and are infused with underlying symbolism, though she doesn’t apply specific meaning to her images. “The creation of art has always been about the same thing; finding a way to contextualize inner and outer conditions and translating them into one’s own language,” she has said. “In my paintings, I want to create moments that elude time and space, in which history and the present day are blended together.”
For her most recent body of work, which debuted over the weekend at Haven Gallery’s booth at SCOPE New York, Byland creates an alluring contrast between the past and not too distant future. Titled “Souvenir”, her new series borrows elements from Victorian era photographs, where her characters are dressed in their usual period clothing and accompanied by surreal reinterpretations of antique objects. Though her subjects pose in decorative interiors of the past, their environment appears almost post-apocalyptic as snow begins to fall in their salons, or a foggy ocean looms in the horizon of their wallpaper.