Greene Naftali is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by German artist Katharina Wulff. This will be the artist’s first solo show in New York after exhibiting in Europe at institutions and galleries for the last ten years.
Wulff’s painting process is slow and idiosyncratic, as she composes her canvases often without the aid of studies or sketches. Her small portraits continue a tradition of German figurative painting which articulates both fragile beauty and elements of the grotesque. Wulff’s figures are left in varying states of completedness, sometimes with no mouth or their eyes not fully rendered. In their manner of adornment, the characters are eccentrically styled—highly coiffed, wearing a decorative necktie, or sitting at night in a see-through top and blue jeans. Their poses, expressions, stagings, and proportions are set in relation to outdoor scenes of rolling hills or dotted landscapes punctuated by thin wispy trees. While full of specific details, the stylistic elements of the paintings maintain their disconnectedness from one another and from cohering into any clear sense of identity, place, and time. In some works, the figures are dispensed with altogether and the vacant landscapes of cliffs, rivers, and thin vegetation remain.
Working in Berlin, Wulff’s practice relates to a contemporary line which includes Lukas Duwenhogger and Kai Althoff—artists who pursue personal experience through historical genres. Not exactly fantasies, though they contain fantastical elements, her work calls to mind female Surrealist painters such as Leonora Carringon and Dorothea Tanning, and draws from painters like Balthus, Pierre Klossowski, and Florine Stettheimer. While elements of narrative are present, the paintings act more as staged tableaux, and are replete with allusions to art history, contemporary painting, and cinema.