June 26 - August 6, 2021
June 26 - August 6, 2021
Balancing into the Deep, Janaina Tschäpe’s second solo exhibition with the Sean Kelly Gallery, presents a bold new body of work featuring the artist’s largest canvases to date and exuberant drawings. Richly painted using large-scale oil sticks in addition to the water-based pigments she previously employed, it marks a fresh direction in Tschäpe’s oeuvre. This shift in both material and scale allows the artist to “draw” as one would with a pencil or pastel, in addition to painting with a brush, producing a body of work that represents a fundamental move towards larger and more resolute gestures.
Whether feeling unsettled, surprised, or in awe, I can explore how that feeling becomes a gesture, a color, and an expression. In nature, you expose yourself to the uncontrollable, the sublime; you do not switch off the sun, stop the wind, or silence the noises.
These new works are informed by the play of color, shape, and pattern found in the environment; observations processed and incorporated within Tschäpe’s visual language illustrate how the formal aspects of her paintings intersect with the natural world, emphasizing the overlap between human nature - emotional turbulence, expression, and freedom - and that of the physical world.
To me, painting means feeling something right up close, being physically in the present with body and soul. I could never explain to anyone this intimate dialogue with the canvas.
Perhaps the most important shift affecting Tschäpe’s recent work was brought on by the pandemic, when she left the city to work in nature. Whilst her work has always referenced the natural world, it was primarily through an interior dialogue, in the studio, conjuring memories and associations. Now, physically surrounded by nature, Tschäpe experienced what the German Romantics referred to as The Sublime, the sense of awe or wonder aroused by one’s feeling of relative insignificance in the face of nature’s vast and grand beauty. This body of work is, for Tschäpe, also inspired by the late 18th century German literary movement Sturm und Drang, which exalted nature, feeling, and human individualism.
The direction I had been pushed in at school was to deal with identity. But then I just kept losing my identity to the enormity and power of the landscape.
These new works demonstrate a vibrancy and richness enhanced by the use of the oil sticks creating a dynamic and vigorous presence. The immediacy, conviction, and confidence of Tshcäpe's vigorous, expansive gestures are demonstrable as she engages unrestrained actions utilizing this vivid and conspicuous material. She presents a series of works that, despite the anxiety and hardships of the past year, emerge as both forceful and beautiful.
I consider everything to have colors. Vowels, tones, numbers, words; I see colors everywhere - that's always been the case.
There is some underlying emotional situation that almost changes the colour in memory. Even the gestures in drawings are such an extension of something in your body. It is not just visual, but also physical.
Sean Kelly Virtual Conversation: Janaina Tschäpe and Doris von Drathen, Thursday, July 15, 2021.