Portrait Heinz Pfister

“The pictures cut out of black paper with a scalpel by Heinz Pfister surprise with its joke, their charm and last but not least with their subtly sensitive, profound eroticism.” Citation Bernese newspaper.

1949 Born and grown up in Aarberg
1966 Training chemical laboratory worker in Basel
1971 Training technical instructor
1973 Evening course at the school for arts and crafts in Basel
1988 Training officer for production jobs
1991 Journey around the world
1994 Return with hundreds of ideas and sketches. Step from training officer to freelanced artist.
Lives and works in Busswil/BE

At times filigree and playful, at times striking and concise, Heinz Pfister conjures with his scalpel from a sheet of black paper a three-dimensionality that often incorporates ambiguity, the subtly surreal and a sense of humour. A shot of sensuality often infuses his work, although the eroticism never comes across as coarse or obscene.

Heinz Pfister’s method of working can be compared with the Op Art school. Simple, clear shapes that almost evoke optical illusions are frequently represented in his work. He is one of the foremost Swiss papercutters and regularly shows his work at individual and group exhibitions both at home and abroad.

Questions & Answers


Heinz Pfister how does a paper cut develop?
First I draw the the exact detailed motive onto the paper, then I cut out all white surfaces of the black paper with a scalpel. The paper cut developed in such a way is always out of one piece and nothing is glued.

What is the difference between paper cuts and silhouettes?
Silhouettes are made with a shear, whereby the paper is often fold one in order to achieve a symmetry. When talking about paper cut one cuts with a knife (scalpel). Hereby paper is folded rarely. Many artists use both techniques for same work. Therefore one mostly makes no difference and calls both silhouettes.

How did you come on paper cuts?
When I got a book concerning Chinese paper cuts, it packed me. I was engaged with the art of these people and taught myself the technics.

Since when do you make paper cuts?
I started 1983, since 1991 I’m practising paper cuts professionally.

How long do you work on a paper cut?
Depending upon motive it is varying. But as rule of thumb I would say 20 hours on average.