BERLIN.- Galerie Michael Janssen presents its second solo exhibition by L.A.-based artist Monique van Genderen.
Entitled The Gentle Art of Making Enemies the exhibition alludes to the book of the same name by James Abbot McNeill Whistler. First published in 1892 it is an account of personal revenges between Whistler and the art critic John Ruskin who criticized Whistler‘s painting Nocturne in Black and Gold, exhibited in the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1877, as „unfinished“ and as „a pot of paint flung in the public‘s eye“. Whistler was incensed with the criticism and initiated a libel case against Ruskin. While the text is a narrative about the development of abstract painting, it also explores the relationship between artist and viewer and their expectations and desires for imparting unfixed ideas.
In her work van Genderen explores elements of narrative, illusion and figuration within abstraction by allowing the surface and material to narrate the picture plane rather than a subject. If her paintings recall Matisse, Emerson Woelffer and Helen Frankenthaler‘s Color Field paintings then she is attracted to combining those elements with concerns of today’s painting.
The paintings on view in the first part of the exhibition all have exactly the same dimension: 6 feet high and 4 feet wide (approx. 183 X 122 cm); a rather unusual dimension for paintings that appeals to the spectator‘s body as well as the eye and that heightens the physiological experience of viewing. Unlike her previous works, the paintings in this exhibition are made on canvas rather than on smooth wood panels. Without relying as much on the alchemy of paint pooling to form loosely controlled shapes they now explore the role of improvisation through compositional cropping. As with the earlier works color continues to be a factor that attempts to attract and repel at the same time.
Also on view is a series of smaller clay paintings in which van Genderen uses fired clay and glaze to make lyrical abstractions. Van Genderen’s work has always presented materials in the form of a narrative; vinyl stood in for paint, enamel for watercolor, and now clay for canvas. Throughout all the works there is a mixture of materials varying between the organic (raw pigments) and the industrial (shiny enamels). The surface of the clay paintings on view has an imprint of canvas, which makes one think they were made on canvas. They allude to her installation works in which the stretcher bar and frame are deconstructed. In them playfulness and the promiscuous intermingling of art and craft, silliness and seriousness, design and décor predominates making them an interaction of painting and sculpture.
Monique van Genderen was born in Vancouver, Canada. Lives and works in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions (selection): 2011: Kunstverein Heilbronn (upcoming). 2008: Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin. 2006: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta. 2005: Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Group exhibitions (selection): 2011: ACME Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. 2010: Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland.