Biography

Born in Bhamdoun, Lebanon, in 1933 to a Swiss father and a Lebanese mother, Hafis Bertschinger grew up in his native country, as a adolescent he moved to Zurich with his family. His mixed origins and multilinguism led to the path of creation and extensive journeys around the world. Having studied plastic arts at the Slade School in London, and with his degree in history of art at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland).

 

Hafis developed works out of his travels which have been widely exhibited. Seizing the trends of our time, he transposes them into a personal language of simplicity, energy and action. Since 1970 he has his studio in Cormerod, Canton Fribourg.

 

 

Important dates

1958

In Paris, he specializes in sculpture and works in the studio of the sculptor François Stahly

1963 He teaches drawing and sculpture at Arkansas Art School, Little Rock, Arkansas. And won the sculpture prize of the Delta-Show in 1964
1966–67 Stay at the Cité des Arts in Paris
1970 Settles permanently in Cormérod (canton of Friborg) where he has his workshop
1971 Participates in the first Swiss archaeological expedition on the Euphrates as a draftsman
1973 Foundation of the Mara Gallery at the Rue d'Or in Friborg and became a member in 1974 of the SPSAS
1977–78 Two trips to Egypt: study and photography on Egyptian facade paintings on the theme «Images of pilgrimage to Mecca»
1982 Oregon Trail: Hafis traces the course of General Sutter. 3000 km with his horse George
1984 Crossing the Atlas. 600 km on a donkey. Hafis decorates ceramics among Berbers and Fes
1985 Tour of Helvetia. 1500 km with his horse Stefan following the border
1987–90 River trilogy: The Sarine, the Rhone and MAMIMI (Madison, Missouri and Mississippi) with Walter Tschopp
1991 Celtic travel: Hafis trip from Switzerland to Ireland
1992 Japan Dragon Trail. 2500 km by bike
1995–96 Travel by train from Cape Town to Nairobi
1998 New Zealand Expedition
1999 Aurora Borealis: trip to Alaska
2004 Journey with video artist Jacqueline Surchat in China, Samarkand, Taschkent, Beirut and Morocco
2006-10 Annual trips to Dubai and stay in Ras Al Khaima where he works at RAK-Ceramics
2010–11

Stay in the studio «Jean Tinguely», City of Arts, Paris (Canton of Friborg Scholarship, Switzerland)

 

Annual trips to Japan and Morocco, where he built a pied-à-terre

2012 Trip to Mexico for his project on the Day of the Dead
2013 Trip to Japan to prepare his exhibition on kofuns in Paris
2013 «Back to the roots» trip with his grandson in Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey
2014 Travel to New York with his granddaughter then Salt Lake City and Yellowstone Park to prepare the project in 2016 to make the Oregon Trail by air
2014-15 4 trips to Accra, Ghana
2017 Visit of his family in Lebanon and preparation of an exhibition in Beirut about the «Pheonician Alphabet» 
2017 Death of his wife Mara on 28th September
2018 Visit of Thomas Jenatsch in Nicaragua for the «Firebelt»-project 
2018 Trip to Morocco with visit of the studio in El Homr and terracotta-works in Infgane
2018

Presentation of Mano Khalil's film «Hafis

& Mara» at the Solothurner Filmtage

2018 Oregon Trail: attempt of a second trip by bicycle

 

 

Workshop at Eidberg, 1968
Workshop at Eidberg, 1968

 

The Fours, France, 1967
The Fours, France, 1967
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Emirates, 2009. Photo: Bernhard Sperling, Dubai

 

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Tour of Switzerland with Stefan, 1985. Photo: Erling Mandelmann

 

Crossing the Atlas, 1984
Crossing the Atlas, 1984
Oregon Trail with George, 1982
Oregon Trail with George, 1982

 

Avec Mark Tobey, Bâle, 1971
With Mark Tobey, Basel, 1971

 

Moulin à papier, Bâle, 1970
Paper mill, Basel, 1970