About Sarah Albisser
Sarah Albisser’s background as a contemporary dancer and choreographer has had a powerful influence on both her life and her art. She is fascinated by movement and self-expression, which over the past decade has resulted in a collection of striking black-and-white portraits of female faces.
Devoting herself to a unifying theme for so many years has enabled her to explore and experiment with various techniques and materials, including pens, acrylics, perspex and thread. Her art captures form, feeling and evanescent moments in time, and she often leaves a section of the canvas unfinished for the viewer to complete with their own interpretations and imaginations.
Sarah has had exhibitions of her work in New Zealand, Switzerland and Los Angeles.
Her artworks are now held in private collections around the world.
Where are you based?
I was born in Lucerne, Switzerland, and immigrated to New Zealand in 2007. I now live in Wellington.
When and how did you fall in love with art?
Both of my parents love art and design. My father was an architect and is a great artist now. Growing up I spent a lot of time in my dad’s studio, from the time I could walk I had a paint brush in my hand. Our home was filled with art and design furniture.
How would you describe what you do to someone who hasn’t seen your work?
Unlike a classical portrait, I like to capture a feeling, mood, mental state, the presence of a character in the moment. My work is inspired by strong female characters, who are original and have a powerful presence. I love black and white because it distances us from reality and transports the viewer to a kingdom of abstraction.
What is the best thing about creating art?
For me, creating art is an expression of freedom. It’s connecting with your subconscious mind. I love getting lost in time and to be present in the moment.
What is your background?
I started off as a contemporary dancer and choreographer. When I finished my career in my late 20s it was natural to move into the visual arts. I can’t imagine life without being creative.
What themes do you pursue in your art? What inspires you?
I was always fascinated with faces, expression, body and gesture. In my work I capture, feelings, moods and mental states. I never use images or photos, most of my works are created through improvisation. My work is inspired by strong female characters, who are original and have a powerful presence.
What have you been working on recently?
My latest subject, box heads, is inspired by the lockdown - track and trace your thoughts. I think it’s important to become more self-aware, to reflect and guard against misinformation, negativity and what we consume or listen to in general. The box heads represents the storage of our past and present experiences, our thoughts and feelings. Like on an airplane, the black box records and stores data and information. It’s the same with our mind: it records and stores everything we hear and what we see, and determines our mental health.
What material do you use and why?
I like to explore different mediums. I've been working with thread using the sewing machine, but also hand stitching through paper. I like the three dimensional effect I can achieve with this technique.
The second one is ink on paper, creating large drawings of heads - I name them Wireheads. The drawings have evolved from a long history of sketching. I call it structured improvisation; a combination of uncontrolled and controlled chaos, with some identifiable characteristics. They represent the energy of thinking and the subconscious mind in movement and in the moment.
Third, I like to paint on board, as the surface is firm and I can use different tools to apply the paint.
Adorn Beauty Gin
One of my artworks is on a label of an award winning Gin Bottle made by The National Distillery. The Gin has won the silver medal at the Australian Gin Awards in Sydney 2020, and the bronze medal at the World Wine & Spirits Competition in New York 2020.