Nicola Grabiele was born the son of Italian immigrants; his work is very influenced by his family’s past and tradition. In his studio one will find a big green suitcase, which was used more than 40 years ago by his parents to bring all of their belongings to Switzerland. This is by no means a coincidence; the past plays an important role in almost all of his paintings.
In the main hall of the Kunsthalle the big issues of human life are dominating. One four-part painting deals with Baptism. According to Grabiele, Baptism, is the official initiation into a social tradition which is still dominated by mostly religious values. Another image, a large format painting 'Sapore di Sale', shows a mother standing up to her knees in the sea and holding her two children by the hand. The reference to the salty breeze is clearly a metaphor for the permanent longing for an often idealised past; a longing that tourists from middle Europe share with the immigrants who have left their Mediterranean home.
In the second hall life itself is in the limelight, especially its social parts. Friends, acquaintances and relatives meet at tables in a style that sometimes reminds one of the Eucharist. The protagonists do not necessarily know each other in real life but come from a big collection of old family photos and are re-arranged into new constellations within the painting. This collage-like procedure allows play amongst the fictitious encounters as well as to suggest relations between people that might have been but were not meant to be.