Parties I am not Invited to
11 November – 23 December 2022
The artworks of painter Sevina Tzanou, who lives and works in Bonn and Athens, are energetic and powerful pieces of painting. Painted with gestural, scratchy brushstrokes, her mid and large-format canvases reveal scenes of nightlife, bars, strip clubs, and burlesque theaters, where glamour meets an underground kind of atmosphere.
Parties I am not Invited to
11.11.2022 – 23.12.2022
For her first solo show at Robert Grunenberg gallery, entitled Parties I am not invited to, Tzanou presents a series of new large-scale paintings, that build a panoramic nightlife party scene along the gallery walls. Her portraits of dynamically formed figures are in movement, dancing, posing, and shaping bold silhouettes, sometimes morphing into each other. Her sometimes lightly, sometimes heavily dressed protagonists, women most of it, sit, stand, and pose in groups as if they are on stage or – strangely enough – are the audience themselves. There is an element of drama and drag, an opulent costume show with fierce high heels, heavy makeup, and big hair. The oil paintings where colors are applied thickly on jute or cotton canvases reference a variety of classics: one thinks of the masqueraded figure groups by James Ensor, the painting Carmencita (1924) by Iovis Corinth, the expressionistic nightlife sceneries by Ludwig Kirchner and the composition of Francis Bacons morphing heads and grotesque figures in front of bold color field background. One could even draw a line to the Jungen Wilden of Berlin’s queer and punk movement in the 1980s. Despite all the rich references, Tzanou has a reoccurring discourse, that tackles concepts and representations of femininity as a socially shaped, performative model of gender and has carved out a world through painting that one wants to be invited to.
In D Minor (2022), a female-looking person plays the bouzouki. The instrument is traditionally reserved for men in Greece, the home country of the Bonn-based artist. Here, the appropriation of the patriarchal symbol reveals an emancipatory potential. The protagonists toast with their martini glasses in a self-empowered manner, and the artist also purposefully integrates herself into this process, as Auf mich (2022) makes us understand. In the process, an eyeball is sunk into each drink, peering through the glass in all directions. Sevina Tzanou recognizes that the gazes of others exert an inescapable influence on (self-)perception. Thus, Parties I’m not invited to also speaks of the other-directed desire to belong.
Tzanou contrasts the male-dominated field of painting by focusing on figurative attributes, that are traditionally connotated as “feminine”. Furs, sequins, and pearl jewelry – Tzanou observes how fashion trends of past times define social gender constructions and their performativity.
Sevina Tzanou, born in 1994 in Greece, studied in Düsseldorf under Katharina Grosse, Eberhard Havekost, and Yesim Akdeniz. She lives and works in Bonn, (DE), and Athens, (GR).
For more information, please contact the gallery: email@example.com