22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Lika Nüssli

Lika Nüssli was born in Flawil in 1973 and grew up in the town of Gossau, in the eastern Swiss canton of St. Gallen. She trained as a textile designer and then studied illustration at the Lucerne School of Art and Design. She has been working as a freelance artist in the fields of drawing and painting, performance, and installation since 2003.

She had illustrated several children’s books before presenting her first graphic novel, »Vergiss dich nicht« [2018; tr: Don’t Forget Yourself]. The points of reference for this work were Lika Nüssli’s visits to her mother’s nursing home – her mother suffers from dementia. Tilting repeatedly into the surreal, the drawings capture everyday life in the home, record absurd dialogues, tell the stories of the residents and the predominantly migrant caregivers. According to the »Tagblatt«, it is »a book about the parallel universe of forgetting oneself and the world in dementia. A story told in pictures about the new form of closeness on the one hand – and about the fading of life on the other«.

In her second graphic novel, »Starkes Ding« [2022; tr: Strong Thing], Lika Nüssli takes up her father’s childhood experiences and thus sheds light on a dark chapter in Swiss history: Ernst Nüssli, a farmer’s son, had to work for several years on the farm of a foreign family in the 1950s as a so-called Verdingbub – an exploitative practice that was often accompanied by mistreatment. Lika Nüssli tells the story from the perspective of the boy, who is barely twelve years old at the beginning and wants to prove how strong he is and what he can accomplish. Rough, crudely drawn scenes with comic-style figures alternate with fine landscape drawings and nightmarish scenes that play into the fantastic, illustrating the traumatic events experienced with the strange family. Stylistically, the artist drew inspiration from, among other things, Senntumsmalerei, a regional form of peasant painting. The »taz« highlighted that »in sensitively and at the same time humorously composed scenes, Lika Nüssli approaches her father’s past, drawing attention to a remarkable ability – to overcome difficult life situations through moments of togetherness and in contact with nature.«

Lika Nüssli has received several awards for her graphic work, including the Comicstipendium der Deutschschweizer Städte and the Comic-Werkbeitrag from Pro Helvetia. She is co-editor of the comic magazine »Strapazin«, gives drawing courses at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, and teaches illustration at the Propädeutikum at the local Schule für Gestaltung. In 2022, the Cartoonmuseum Basel dedicated a retrospective to her. Lika Nüssli lives in St. Gallen.

Date: 2022