Every Something Is An Echo of Nothing

Federica Schiavo Gallery is delighted to present Every Something Is An Echo of Nothing, an exhibition of new paintings by Svenja Deininger (Vienna, b. 1974). This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Rome.

A painter’s painter, Svenja Deininger grapples with the grand archetypes found in the tangled history of painting. Her paintings are an accumulation of shapes with traces of denuded surfaces and proscribed borders perched around the edges of attenuated lines. Painting is a tug-of-war where outlined proportions are subtly carved out of units of contour formations dancing around layers of over-painted “miscues”. Depth and surface overlap in an endless variety of angled, rounded, squared, blunted or truncated shapes.

Such are her patterns; they’re neither the antagonisms of existential abstraction nor the missives of dogmatic painting but rather the unknown visions of her internal resources. As an antidote to technological overstimulation there is a heroic stability about them. Impelled by a state of sympathy and psychological redress the paintings are a compression of impulses. Endless combinations of unorthodox patterns push her geometric repetition one way or another. All the while anthropomorphic shapes emerge by the tension engendered between the interlocking forms. Considered within the parameters of serial groupings they converse amongst themselves and assert another spatial dimension to the architectural confines in which they hang.

A plight of every painter is the limitation of two-dimensionality and the stretcher. Deininger’s technique seems the antithesis of rigid formalism; unorthodox oblong geometries seem contrary to layers of shifting color silhouettes. Bold monochromes, sgraffiti surfaces, and shimmering viscous paints overlap. They are physical and subtle exemplars of mismatching colors reconciled by their idiosyncratic logic structure.  The striations found in a denim colored work is in actuality a lapis lazuli pigment seeping through the weaves from the reverse side of the linen canvas. Underscoring this color field is a narrow line markedly brighter at the bottom, a solid within a density. When scaled up in larger canvases, biomorphic shapes are stacked teetering in space. Mediterranean blue, Ferrari red, burnt ochre, pearlescent whites, and beiges are reconciled by a dark monochromatic ground just holding them in place. Consistent to her palette, earth tones jibe with more ambient color, midnight blues merge into all encompassing blacks and the reverse occurs repeatedly.  A boat-shaped canvas is neither homage to Ellsworth Kelly nor is it parody. Its merely another chapter of breaching influences that every painter must contend with; Tomma Abts, Etel Adnan, Mark Grotjahn (butterfly paintings), Mary Heilmann et al. 

In confronting the pitfalls of the objectified medium itself Svenja Deininger is left to the fate of causality in her own paintings. Painting as illusion is the accumulation and arrangement of sequences in which they are placed in a descent of forms. To deal with the mind and reason a dynamic symmetry is necessary. With recognizable geometric order it’s the altered familiar that gives them their newness. After all, as implied in the exhibition title quote from John Cage, there is something to be gleaned out of nothingness. 

Text: Julius Champaigne

Installation view