Mirjam Beerli

Mirjam Beerli

My career

After studying at the Basel School of Applied Arts, the predecessor of the present-day Academy of Art and Design FHNW, I worked as a freelance artist in Basel from 1980 to 1994. I spent a year at the Istituto Svizzero in Rome as an artist-in-residence and a year working in a studio in the Upper Engadin. During this early work phase, I had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad and twice received an art scholarship from the canton of Basel-Stadt.

In 1994, I joined the Art Department of the Swiss Bank Corporation and worked in cultural sponsoring for the bank from 1995 to 2006. As head of Group Cultural Sponsorship, I was responsible for the development, expansion, and implementation of all partnerships in the cultural sector. From 1998 to 2000 I completed, next to my job, a postgraduate course in Cultural Management at the University of Linz (MAS in Art and Media Management). From 2007 to 2018 I was manager of the UBS Culture Foundation.

During my years as a cultural manager I kept up my art activities, but as a representative of UBS in the cultural sector I was unable exhibit publicly. Since retiring early in June 2018, I have focused again exclusively on my artistic practice and now am again in a position to present my work to a public audience.

My work

My principal artistic medium is drawing not least because I require the immediacy, precision, and liveliness of lines to create my pictures. One can condense lines, at the same time the white interstices give them space to breath. My wish is to create pictures that set the gaze of the viewer in motion through their inherent movement, unfold immediate impact, and so evoke ever-new images.

My drawings emerge from the interplay of repetition and variation of a line as a basic form which then condenses into a complex, spatial body. For this purpose, I gather inspiration from nature, for instance, from the ever-changing play of form, light, and colour of a tree whose leaves produce endless variations of the same basic shape; or the play of ripples on a water’s surface which continuously change in shape but constantly rely on the same formal idiom.

In my drawings I create figures and shapes that appear to have grown organically but, at the same time, look abstractly designed. For this I always work in series or work groups. The forms are not only subject to motion in themselves, they also change and shift from one drawing to the next – thus intensifying the sense of change and making temporality more tangible. I developed my drawing technique in the 1990s. I began by taking objects from nature and using them as a basic module for my drawings, for instancing by tracing the outline of stone with my pencil, then moving the stone slightly and again tracing its outline, and so on, until I had in front of me a dense drawing which revealed a different reality of the stone. I did the same with antlers, horns, roots, and bones, always with the intention of creating novel natural formations. Later I switched to using closed round forms to create figures of varying shape; at the same time, I wanted to enhance the precision of my lines. After some experimenting I began using flat templates of simple organic forms and then condensing the base lines into fictitious natural bodies.

„In a sense, Mirjam Beerli creates natural organic shapes which as such no one has ever seen before; fictions of nature, so to speak. But is nature in its ingenuity not itself a fiction? Perhaps this natural fictional creativity even finds its continuation exactly in the artist’s creative ingenuity, a mix of technical skill, intent, unintentionality, and chance. Maybe that is also why these shapes and figures emanate a peculiar kind of independence and calm, yet also tenderness and vulnerability, like the plants and animals around us in the making of which we played no part.”

Michael Hampe, Professor for Philosophy, ETH Zurich

My exhibitions

Solo exhibitions

  • Centre PasquART, Kunstverein Biel
  • Ausstellungsraum Klingental Basel
  • Galerie im Trudelhaus Baden
  • Galerie «ist» Burgdorf
  • Frauen Kunst Forum Bern
  • Galerie Franz Mäder Basel

Group exhibitions

  • Kunsthalle Ziegelhütte Appenzell
    «Emma Kunz und Gegenwartskunst – Zahl, Rhythmus, Wandlung»
    Aprile 26th to October 25th 2020
  • Travelling exhibition Paper Worlds
    Jyväskylä Art Museum, Lönnström Museo Rauma, Aine Art Museum Tornio, Into Galerie Helsinki, Musée de Pully bei Lausanne
    (With Claude + Andrée Frossard, Eva Saro, Kaarina Kaikkonen, Matti Kalkamo, Janna Syvänoja)
  • Frauen Kunst Forum Bern
  • Galerie Marie-Louise Wirth Zürich
    (With Anna-Maria Bauer, Max Matter, George Steinmann)
  • Museum of Modern Art Hong Kong, Schweizer in Hong Kong
  • Visarte Ausstellungsraum Basel, Die Neuen
  • Travelling exhibition Papierobjekte
    Art galleries of Tallin, Riga, Vilnius, St Petersburg, Moskau, Kornhaus Bern
    (Organized by Visarte in collaboration with Pro Helvetia)
  • Galerie Pankow Berlin, Ueber Kreuz Berlin-Basel
  • Kunstmuseum Olten Von ordentlichen und unordentlichen Ordnungen
  • Basellandschaftliche Kunstausstellung
  • Accademia Amiata Arcitosso Schweizer in Rom
  • Exhibition Swiss Federal Art Scholarship, Lucerne and Basel
  • ART Sélestat
  • Basellandschaftliche Kunstausstellung


Works held in collections

Kanton Basel-Land
Kanton Basel-Stadt