Richly painted using large scale oil sticks in addition to the water-based pigments she previously employed, it marks a fresh direction in Tschäpe’s oeuvre. This material shift allows the artist to “draw” as one would with a pencil or pastel, rather than painting with a brush, yielding a body of work that represents a fundamental shift into larger and more resolute movements.

Perhaps the most important shift affecting Tschäpe’s recent work was brought on by the pandemic, when she left the city to work in nature. Whilst her work has always referenced the natural world, it was primarily through an interior dialogue, in the studio, conjuring memories and associations. Now, physically surrounded by nature, Tschäpe experienced what the German Romantics referred to as The Sublime, the sense of awe or wonder aroused by one’s feeling of relative insignificance in the face of nature’s vast and grand beauty. Emphasizing the overlap between human nature – emotional turbulence, expression and freedom – and that of the physical world, this body of work is, for Tschäpe, also inspired by the late 18th century German literary movement Sturm und Drang, which exalted nature, feeling, and human individualism.

These new works are energized by the play of color, shape, and pattern found in the environment; observations processed and incorporated within Tschäpe’s visual language illustrate how the formal aspects of her paintings intersect with the natural world. In discussing her process Tschäpe states, “Whether feeling unsettled, surprised, or in awe, I can explore how that feeling becomes a gesture, a color, and an expression. In nature, you expose yourself to the uncontrollable, the sublime; you do not switch off the sun, stop the wind, or silence the noises.” These new works demonstrate a vibrancy and richness enhanced by the use of the oil sticks creating a dynamic and vigorous presence. The immediacy, conviction and confidence of her vigorous, expansive gestures are demonstrable as Tschäpe engages unrestrained actions utilizing this vivid and conspicuous material. She presents a series of works that, despite the anxiety and hardships of the past year, emerge as both forceful and beautiful.

Janaina Tschäpe lives and works in New York. She will be part of a two-person exhibition with Ursula Reuter Christiansen opening at the Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen on June 24, 2021. Tschäpe’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Sarasota Art Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Musée L’Orangerie, Paris, France; the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Arizona; Kasama Nichido Museum of Art, Kasama, Japan; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, and the Contemporary Museum of Art, St Louis. She has been featured in numerous group exhibitions at institutions including The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland; NCA Taipei, Taiwan; Whitechapel Gallery, London; TBA21-Augarten, Vienna, Austria; CCBB, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Centre D’Art Contemporain de Normandie, France; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Nanazawa, Japan; and Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, amongst other. Her work can be found in notable public collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others. She has completed public commissions in New York City; Miami Beach, Florida; São Paulo, Brazil; and Holbæk, Denmark.

Image: Installation view of Janaina Tschäpe “Balancing into the Deep” at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, 2021. Photography: Jason Wyche, New York. Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York.

Through 06 August 2021