22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Matthias Gnehm

Matthias Gnehm was born in Zurich in 1970 and received his diploma in architecture from the ETH in 1999. Since graduating, he has worked as an independent freelancer, first as a comic artist, architect, and stenographer. Today, he is a freelance author and illustrator of graphic novels as well as a lecturer in art and space at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

After providing the illustrations for the stories by Francis Rivolta from 1995 to 2002, including the comic »Rätsel in Weiß« [2002; tr: White Mystery], which was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Assembly, he published »Tod eines Bankiers. Das Leben ist teuer« [tr: Death of a Banker: Life Is Expensive] in 2004. This was the first work in which Gnehm was responsible for both the text and illustrations. In the 2005 sequel, the doomed banker Charles Gubler gives his successor the idea of capitalizing on Gubler’s death, which spawns a web of intrigue in Zurich’s world of high finance. As a special highlight, the book features a suggestion for the design of Zurich’s lakeside, which he presented in greater detail with architectural plans and 3D models at an exhibition. »Das Selbstexperiment« [2008; tr: The Self-Experiment] is also set in Zurich. A police commissioner must solve a murder in which those involved are part of an experiment that turns their consciousness into interchangeable variables. With the overview of an architect and the simplicity of his drawing style, Gnehm succeeds in constructing a complex plot around questions of identity; its humor arises from the unavoidable collapse. The work was supported by the Collegium Helveticum and expanded upon in exhibitions in Lucerne and in the Semper Observatory in Zurich. »Die Bekehrung« [2011; tr: The Conversion] not only treats puberty, religion, and first love as themes, but also addresses the phenomenon of urban sprawl using the example of structural changes in the village in which the story is set. Architecture is also at the core of »Die kopierte Stadt« [2014; tr: The Copied City]. A replica of Zurich in China is the starting point for a story that devotes much detail to the relationship between an original and its copy. In the thriller »Salzhunger« [2019; tr: Salt Cravings], Gnehm follows the story of Arno Beder, an environmental activist on his way to Lagos together with a colleague to investigate the dirty dealings of a natural resource company. »It is hard to imagine comics that are more action-packed and at the same time more intimate«, said the »FAZ«. The book was nominated for the Max und Moritz Prize in the category »Best German-language Comic«. His most recent work, »Gläserne Gedanken« [2022; tr: Transparent Thoughts], is drawn entirely in shades of grey and explores the possibilities of digitalization: one of the characters works for a start-up that is working on converting thoughts into written text.

Gnehm has received many awards, including the Prix coup de cœur of the Sierre Comics Festival [2001] and a work subsidy from Pro Helvetia. He lives in Zurich.

Date: 2022