Swiss-born Montrealer Axel Morgenthaler is recognized as one of the most innovative visual designers in Quebec, appreciated equally for his talents as a lighting designer and as a multimedia artist in the performance arts as well as architectural projects.
After spending his formative years in Europe, where he trained in theatre arts and electronic engineering, Axel turned his attention toward lighting design for dance and theatre.
Axel Morgenthaler uses light to explore new concepts in set design, visual arts and architecture, employing video, multimedia and cinema as his supporting elements. His lighting designs stand on their own as true works of art, though they are often integrated within various other artistic expressions such as dance, theatre and architecture. In 2002 he was awarded a Bessie Award in New York for the best set and lighting design for "Luna" by the O Vertigo Dance company.
Axel has more than 100 lighting and set designs to his credit, working with such eminent Quebec choreographers as Édouard Lock, Ginette Laurin and Marie Chouinard, Stephen Petronio (USA), Alonzo King (USA) and The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation (USA) He has worked on virtual theatre happenings with such creators as Montrealers Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. He has also worked with many theatre directors, including Quebec-based Gilles Maheu, Robert Lepage, Wajdi Mouawad and Lorraine Pintal. He has also been invited to participate in international opera and theatre productions at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta and the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada and the Shauspielhaus in Vienna, Austria.
International film and television producers have hired Axel to produce special effects, notably for The Hunger TV series, produced and directed by Tony and Ridley Scott. In 2000 he held his first solo art show in France, showcasing his lighting installations. His work as a visual artist has been shown in exhibitions in Canada, the United States, France and Switzerland. He has received commissions for large scale permanent lighting art works from the Montreal Airport, the Montreal subway and the W Hotel.
In 2001, Axel founded the visual design company Photonic Dreams with the goal of offering a global visual approach to performance art, architecture and art show projects. His recent work as architectural lighting designer for the Montreal entertainment district Quartier des Spectacles, has won him international recognition for his creation of the “signature lighting” of the area and the illumination of several Montreal cultural landmarks.
“Although ZAIA is set in outer space, it’s not a scientifically accurate rendition,” Axel points out. “It’s more of a lively, poetic interpretation of the cosmos. So the challenge was to create intimate, playful moments in a vast, dark empty space. And then there’s the challenge of balancing the stage lighting with the video that’s so important to the show.”
Axel Morgenthaler was born in 1964, in Berne, Switzerland.