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15 Apr 2010

Nina Childress 'The Green Chamber' at Galerie Heinz-Martin Weigand

Nina Childress, Tide, 2008, oil on canvas, 195 x 114 cm

Nina Childress 'The Green Chamber'
Galerie Heinz-Martin Weigand


Opening reception:
April 16, 2010, 7pm Exhibition runs until June 26 Opening Hours:
Tue - Fri 1pm to 7pm

Heinz-Martin Weigand

Galerie Heinz-Martin Weigand
Muehlenstrasse 31
76275 Ettlingen

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In its upcoming exhibition Galerie Weigand will present works by Paris artist Nina Childress. 'The Green Chamber' is her first solo exhibition in Germany.

In her paintings Childress explores how clichés are depicted in popular periodicals and magazines. She owns an extensive collection of newspaper images which she uses as the initial template for her paintings. Her images are full of allusions, but with these medial images she nonetheless appeals to the collective memory of an entire generation. She does, however, not linger on the smooth surface but also thematises the things mystical and cryptical that are inherent in this idealised media world.

In this exhibition the colour green forms a superordinated dramatic arc. Green can be found in all nuances and shapes in the rooms, culminating in the 'green chamber' where the walls have been covered with a bright dayglow green wallpaper. Synchronously to this, the paintings are arranged so as to produce increasing tension.

On entering the exhibition one initially encounters a situation which, thematically, revolves round the notions of home and assumed idyll. The motifs appear familiar from films or newspapers. The titles, and the extracts of images which have been drawn in a pixellated fashion, heighten these references. Here Nina Childress shows us harmless landscapes in the style of old postcards, a winter scenario which morphs into a typical seaside idyll. There are rustic interiors, film stills from a 1950s movie, merry widows in a funky ambience. The way the pictures are hung in this room is striking.

The artist is highly interested in exploring the natural boundaries of the canvas. This is the reason why she frequently works with polyptychs, whose associative potential she values highly. Sometimes the edge of the canvas is used as a motivic separator, sometimes as a partition, like in ' intérieur rustique', where the edges show the corner of a wall within the painting. The 'Heimat' triptych works in horizontal separation – like in a film, the individual scenes are mounted one above the other.

The second room showcases smaller format works, which optically enlarges the room and makes it appear relatively empty. One wall is covered with wall paper featuring figurative drawings. The theme in the paintings here is a female nude – the green girl. She remains anonymous, her head hidden underneath a plastic bag. This scene – hung serially in fourfold variation – alludes to the myth of the cursed artist and to artists who have committed suicide in the course of their careers. Another motif is the swan, a symbolically charged figure which the artist regards and paints as a phallic and erotic form, an allusion which runs contrary to the Greek myth of Leda.

An illuminated opening leads to the green chamber, the colourful highlight of the exhibition. In it we find four small pornographic paintings in which the green woman is cavorting with two swans. In burlesque manner the swan, as the symbol of innocence, is seduced and is now used as a sex toy. The scenery is bathed in glaring neon light.

Nina Childress
was born in Pasadena (USA) in 1961 and has been living in Paris since she was five. She has, among others, been a member of the artists' collective 'Les Frères Ripoulin' and the punk band 'Lucrate Milk', two of the influential groups in the Paris art scene in the 1980s. In the summer of 2009 she had an exhibition at the MAMCO in Geneva.