I use oil paints for my canvas paintings, because I like to paint in variations of the traditional Flemish technique. I keep my color palette usually very limited in diffuse sepia tones with a little hint of color detectable sometimes.
Years ago, I came across a tiny photo in The New Yorker Magazine, shot by a Magnum photographer in 1941. When I saw it, I knew I needed to paint it and interpret it in oil and on a big scale. I was not really trying to copy it, but to try and capture its spirit and magic. It took me three years to finish the painting and it was the first of this series of sepia painting that I’m working on to this day.
My source of inspiration could be antique photos I find in obscure old books, or scenes that I come across from an old machine shop in Louisiana or a corn silo somewhere in Texas.
My paintings take time. I work in glazing techniques and just like to pay attention to details that nobody else might even notice.
— Reto Messmer
Bareiss Gallery | 15 State Rd 150 | PO Box 3366 Taos NM 87571 | 575-776-2284
Reto Messmer was born in 1955, in a small town near Zurich Switzerland, into an artistic family.
His father, Rico Messmer, was a sculptor who worked in stone and bronze; his work can be seen in public places in Zurich.
Reto went to the University of Zurich to study literature and art history. He dropped out after a few semesters and traveled throughout Europe. For a while, he lived in the Netherlands where he attended the Freie Art Academy in De Hague studying painting and drawing.
He then travelled to the United States, working on crab and halibut boats in Alaska before returning to Switzerland via New Mexico where he did an apprenticeship as restorer of paintings and murals. After his father’s passing, Reto took over his studio in Zurich and started to work full time as painter, muralist, and sculptor.
He’s had many solo gallery exhibitions and mural and painting commissions in Switzerland. Most notably, a mural in the private home of H. Buehrle, owner of one of the most prestigious impressionist collections in Europe and a museum in Zurich. Migos, the Switzerland’s largest retailer, commissioned Reto to do a large sculpture installation in the office headquarters. He was also commissioned to do a huge outdoor mural, at the time the biggest canvas painting Europe, opposite the stock market exchange in Zurich. His work can be found in many private collections throughout Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.
In 1994, he immigrated with his wife and son to Taos, New Mexico, where he has been working
in and out of his studio in El Rito, north of Taos since. Reto divides his time between sculpture and painting, having painted countless murals in New Mexico, Florida, and Colorado as well as commissioned paintings for private clients. He has had numerous solo shows in galleries in New Mexico and also participated in group shows, most notably the Oralé show at the Harwood Museum in Taos.
Currently, Reto is represented by Envision Gallery and Greg Moon Gallery in Taos, Chere Waters Gallery in Creede Colorado, and The T.Gysin Connection and Jedlitschka Gallery in Zurich Switzerland.