Raphael Hefti (b.1978, Biel, Switzerland) lives and works in both Zürich and London. He started an apprenticeship in Electronics and Mechanics and then moved to École Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne before studying at Slade School of Fine Art.
Raphael Hefti is dedicated to the practice of creating artefacts of unexpected beauty by applying innovative, industrial processes to ordinary materials. There is a profound sense of human invention and intervention within his works, which highlights an innate ability to create, conserve and destroy. All of these themes are unified in his work to provide an exploration of the relationship between natural and industrial processes.
The procedure involved in creating the works becomes integral to Hefti’s finished product. There is a longing to uncover hidden elements and to interact with traditional artistic and industrial materials, transforming them into something aesthetic. His work requires the use of alternative, often self invented, methods, which is exemplified in the use of museum glass, the function of which is essentially to appear invisible and is used to present framed images. However, Hefti subverts the material's function by applying multiple layers of anti-reflective coating, which lends the glass a polychromatic diaphaneity. A small alteration results in the material being dramatically changed and ultimately unfit for its purpose. This process-driven practice creates pieces of art that are at the intersection between abstract and representational, as the work becomes a tangible product, an embodiment of the creational process.
Subversions of functionality – placing the aesthetic above the useful – become integral, and this is evidenced throughout his work. Materials are systematically changed, becoming unfit for their intended purpose, and yet the result is a work of art, as opposed to a misprint or a fault. Hefti searches for different creational methodologies: substrates such as photosensitive papers are exposed to burning lycopodium spores, resulting in richly polychromatic abstract images that evoke the cosmos or the world of microscopic organisms. This seems a telling theme of Hefti’s work, as he utilises technology to discover anomalous methods to create beauty, almost arbitrarily, as an alternative to traditional creative processes. The results are dysfunctional artefacts, which explore the process required to create beauty above anything else.
In 2014 Hefti participated to a residency at the Fondation d'Entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris, together with Paul Kneale and twelve more international artists invited by them. Within the prestigious spaces of the Foundation, Hefti and Kneale orchestrated a collective exhibition entitled Pleasure Principles, which investigated and questioned the contemporary essence of the city of Paris.