Galerie Raum mit Licht


Just a detail

Titanilla von Eisenhart, Lara Erel, Judith Huemer, Titania Seidl

Opening: 06.11.2019
Exhibition: 07.11.19 - 31.01.2020

Image © Titania Seidl »The Painter & the Rectangle (a pleasure that is modest, simple, private)«, 2019

“God is in the detail”
Aby Warburg, 1925
The title »just a detail« refers to the inconspicuous, supposedly marginal or even derogatory, all that is generally overlooked and considered worthless. But there are also overtones of resistance: the realisation that a detail can be significant and at the same time that the big picture can only be grasped close up. And even more: the knowledge of the detail is an exclusive one. Those who do not participate are excluded.

In Titanilla v. Eisenhart (*1961), Lara Erel (*1989), Judith Huemer (*1969) and Titania Seidl (*1988) the Raum mit Licht gallery is presenting four female artists who, in very different ways, take a very close look at their environment and sometimes also at themselves. Materiality plays an important role in this.

Titania Seidl
Titania Seidl belongs to a young generation of artists who have returned to painting. Since 2017 she has been working on the large-format series entitled The Painter & the Rectangle. She pursues a very personal image concept. During intensive phases of work, the canvas fills up like a container – says the artist. There would be no preparatory drawings, but overpaintings. It is not great narratives that emerge, but rather collages of incidental biographical condition reports that are interwoven and develop an anecdotal and simultaneously mysterious pictoriality. She often allows herself to be inspired by momentary reading experiences or her own texts, and she uses the remembered phrases in the titles. This technique is reminiscent of James Joyce’s way of working. In Titania Seidl, too, what happens in her mind flows unfiltered and associatively onto the canvas in a kind of “stream of consciousness” via the brush. The fluid image worlds have the ephemeral consistency of individual dreams and are a nutrient solution for personal mythologies. Landscape-like allusions invite the viewer’s gaze to linger, yet in the next moment they give way to placelessness. Then again individual motifs of fetish-like aura emerge: fragments of a body, for example, containers or clothes in cuts and patterns of exotic cultures. Often they are the artist’s own clothes. Those who know me see me here, she says. Her body coverings are part of her identity and give Titania Seidl a hidden presence in all her paintings. Only the white canvas is her witness.

Lara Erel
The artist Lara Erel works in various media. In the Raum mit Licht gallery, the linocut series Gegenstadt and an installation with ceramics (both 2018) have previously been shown. What characterises her artistic work is the unfolding of complex, multi-part, individual cosmogenies. Lara Erel is currently developing the work complex Invasion. She received inspirations for this among others from Niki de St Phalle’s Hon (1966 Moderna Museet, Stockholm), a 29-meter-long reclining sculpture that can be entered through the vulva. Erel’s process of form-finding is decisively borne by her desire to have her own cosmos grow out of the highly sensory yet unknown terrain of the female sex. The result is sculptural objects that give the womb, vulva, breasts, arms and legs a delicate form in pastel tones. Obstinately, they remain fragments, do not conform to an “object body” imposed from the outside; even a head is missing. On some surfaces a plastic life of its own develops. Formed from polystyrene and covered with papier-mâché, the strange figures seek a footing in the architecture. Quietly and non-violently, floating or hanging, they thus occupy the space and give the title Invasion a further, contrary nuance: it is not the female body that is penetrated in order to occupy it (as in Niki de St Phalle, for instance), but the reverse. Erel’s cosmos of the feminine invigorates the world with a cheerful matter-of-factness. The French artist drew on her grandmother’s household to clothe her organic forms. There she found a coffer filled with patterned wrapping paper that is simultaneously intended to conceal and promise.

Titanilla von Eisenhart
At the latest with the English pavilion designed by Cathy Wilkes (*1966) at the last Biennale, “the silent domestic drama” (Susanne Boecker) became a highly topical theme in art. This installation pays tribute to the lives of many women – still – marked by deprivation in the shadow of a household, “. . . the non-being behind beautiful appearances, for the efforts needed to somehow keep everything together and alive.”
Many years before, in 2002, the all-round artist Titanilla von Eisenhart was already addressing this theme in one of her experimental films, to which she has devoted herself since the 1990s. The very title in Dadaist combinations, How To Force A Partridge Into A Stocking / Wie stopfe ich ein Rebhuhn in einen Strumpf, reveals that she takes a different approach from the Northern Irish artist. Titanilla von Eisenhart works using her own body provocatively and ironically, but above all with the absurdity of profound humour. There is no sign of staunch hardening, but of the sovereignty of a confident woman who addresses her viewers directly and winking on an equal footing.
The video, a one-woman production, shows the artist in the “talking heads” documentary format. She appears in a private setting, shirt-sleeved in a pink blouse, heavy rings on her fingers. Everything is bathed in warm light. Her father’s watch ticks on her wrist. He introduced her to the world of art from an early age. It is night time, the only moment of peace for a single mother of three children. In the background you can hear the rousing rhythms of a French light orchestra. Nino Ferrer sings loudly (Les Cornichons, 1966) about the preparations of a picnic in an arbitrary food litany. The mother had spent three days filling the baskets – a plucked chicken was also there by the way – then everything fell through. Bitter comedy! In time with this, Titanilla, endlessly repeating, with visible sensual pleasure, stuffs the papier-mâché mock-up of a plucked partridge in stockings. The concept of “stuffing stockings”, a symbol of a housewife tragedy and futile daily chores, thus acquires an undreamt-of saucy dimension and conquers the stage of an erotically charged, high-handed  or, better, highly womanly performance, in which it is not patriarchy that wins but art.
The film is accompanied by a series of drawings which together form a kind of pic-togrammatic recipe book: from the plucked partridge to the clock, ballpoint pen, tripod and video camera, here we find all the ingredients of the film sketched out in characteristic outlines. A completely different side of the artist can be discovered here: the decisiveness, subtlety and elegance are reminiscent of Egon Schiele.

Judith Huemer
Judith Huemer’s work, too, is distinguished by a highly versatile artistic practice expressed in various media and materials. It ranges from drawings, sketches and collages to large-format analogue photos. Ready-mades are just as much a part of this as are installations, performances and video works.
Like many artists of the “role-model generation” (Renate Bertlmann, Valie Export, Friedl Kubelka, Heidi Harsieber) – and all the artists in this exhibition – in her work, too, her own body plays a major role, in an original and very specific way. For Huemer, it is not the body itself that is of central importance, but rather the body at the interface with society and, in particular, in relation to what clothes the body in society, and what – in the here and now of a lived social context and just for a moment – attributes a certain role, a certain texture and a certain colour, even a certain appearance to it. The exhibition shows works from two photographic series that explicitly deal with the theme of textiles in the field of tension between social role attribution and possible identity realisation:
The unfinished series wornout has been produced since 1997 and could be described as a kind of private archive of worn-out stockings. They contain individually experienced movement and the personal decision for a certain clothing style, as the textiles bear the aesthetic signatures of their time of manufacture. Judith Huemer’s tights are usually brightly coloured, and but during her residency in Rome only flesh-coloured tights were available. Launched for women for the first time in 1959, the stretch leggings made of slightly fragile synthetic fibre soon became a symbol of beautifully shaped, coloured and attractive women’s legs and a predestined material for feminist artists. Judith Huemer now shapes a growing ball out of them layer by layer and then captures the “status quo” of the circumference at irregular intervals in analogue photographs against a white background. The finished print is finally rotated 90 degrees. So now the schadow cast by the ball has been shifted sideways. The growing sculptural tights condensate thus seems strangely weightless and acquires the appearance of a meaningfully illuminated wall object. It is a personal time capsule that will continue to accompany Judith Huemer’s life.  

Another photographic series with a related theme was created between 2010 and 2013. It is in five parts, but here too the title signals a conceptual incompleteness and coincidence in the selection: AND colourful, AND turquoise, AND metallic, AND light pink, AND pink. In particular, the individual work is identified as part of a greater whole. In this series, Judith Huemer has captured rolls of fabric as they can be found in relevant shops. They offer the raw material in which life could be clothed. Whether the gender categorisation will play a role remains an open question. Elaborately worked out, the artist has created monumental colour architectures from close-up photos. 
Just a detail!    

Text: Heidrun Rosenberg 2019
Translation: David Westacott