10 September – 5 November 2022
Robert Grunenberg is pleased to present “Stills”, an exhibition with new, large-scale works by Anna Virnich. The artist is known for her delicate tableaus composed with different textiles. Starting from abstract painting, Virnich creates an emotionally charged pictorial space by using contrasting materialities and different textures. For the first time, painterly elements with figurative references now appear in the artist’s work.
The variety of materials, sometimes sharp and contrasting, sometimes overlapping and complementing, ranges from silk to polyester, from leather to faux fur and latex, to shiny sequins and faded cottons. Floral ornaments are combined with yellowed foxing, ruffled taffeta billows are placed next to wrinkled, stiff plastic. Not only do the materials themselves evoke certain associations and memories, but they arise precisely in their specific combination with each other.
Virnich, too, is not primarily concerned with the materials and their history, but with the pictorial quality that underlies each single fabric. With somnambulistic certainty, Virnich composes different textures with one another and gradually arranges the individual bodies of color into a picture in which the elements are fluidly interacting. Opaque, rectangular fragments form anchor points and function as windows into an external reality that merges with memories. The individual forms are connected through visible, hand-set seams that run through the works like scars, making the dynamic process of their creation visible. Like film stills from an inner catalogue of life that feed from consumed images and own memories, the works seem to be embedded in a before and an after.
Virnich’s almost sculptural approach of letting herself be intuitively guided by the physical qualities of the textures also incorporates the in-between and behind of the stretched fabrics. Similar to a diorama, where spatial depth is created through multiple layers, there are also pictorial spaces emerging here.
Whereas Virnich has so far drawn on her growing fund of textiles from a wide variety of sources, painterly elements now appear for the first time, applied by the artist with oil pastels onto the textiles. All of a sudden, the already existing patterns and motifs on the fabrics are interacting with the expressive, impasto paintings from the artist’s hand. Like the remnants of a dream that still presses against the head long after one has woken up, the paintings press against the stretched fabrics. As if the artist had traced the brain shortly after waking up, capturing a fading image. Sometimes the painting expands on the surface in clear shapes, like the delicate drawing of yellow lemons on a light background, sometimes a single tendril of flowers appears, seemingly isolated behind a layer of green, transparent plastic.
The large scale, abstract drawing of Mediterranean-looking plants is divided into parts and can be found in several works. By treating the pictorial grounds she paints the same way she treats all the other materials she uses, Virnich adds another layer to her works: images that have burned themselves into her memory are captured and recreated by her into a shape that then again fades away. It is the memory that becomes an image, a fragment of a larger space that stands emblematic for the fragmented spaces in the life of every human being.
Anna Virnich (born 1984 in Germany) lives and works in Berlin. In 2014 she graduated from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig in the class of Walter Dahn. Her works have been shown in many solo and group exhibitions, such as the Schering Stiftung, Berlin; Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf; Bonner Kusntverein, Bonn; Kunstverein Schloss Morsbroich, Leverkusen.
Works are among others part of the Philara Collection, Düsseldorf; Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, Berlin; and Osthaus Museum in Hagen, Germany. Her work was most recently awarded with the Strike A Pose Award, Düsseldorf 2022.
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