In her exhibition WATER, artist VIVIAN GREVEN reveals a series of large-scale paintings depicting different moments of birth. Greven paints birth explicitly, depicting it in itself, as an act of action. And despite the explicit pictorial subjects, it seems as if time stands still in the paintings: they hold something infinite.
Water a Text by the Curator: Luisa Schlotterbeck
A constant new beginning "The new beginning that comes into the world with every birth can only make itself felt in the world because the newcomer has the capacity to make a beginning itself, that is, to act."
While natality, derived from the Latin word natalis (belonging to birth), has often been overshadowed in philosophical discourse by questions of mortality, death, and endings, the arts have long claimed it metaphorically for figures of beginning.
Alongside procreation and conception, in this country especially in the Christian pictorial tradition, parenthood, pregnancy, and birth mark a discursive field of aesthetic origins and new beginnings.
For the publicist and philosopher Hannah Arendt, birth meant the unconditional possibility of the new - of granting a new way of thinking or new (political) action an entrance into the world.
In her exhibition WATER, artist VIVIAN GREVEN reveals a series of large-scale paintings depicting different moments of birth.
Greven paints birth explicitly, depicting it in itself, as an act of action.
And despite the explicit pictorial subjects, it seems as if time stands still in the paintings: they hold something infinite. Two bodies merge under the surface of the water, a baby's head floats and is held.
The water breaks perspective and is at the same time varnish, a colored surface that, like sunlight, floods the space. In the painting <0> II, the irresistible surface of medical gloves is draped over two hands reaching for the clear head of a baby.
His head is the center of image and tension. Two thighs open in color and in turn become abstract mountains, patches of color forming a landscape.
Warm brown and orange color gradients juxtapose blue and white. What happens here is clear, yet neither brutal nor voyeuristic. Although the viewer:s gaze is an outsider one, the painted formation nevertheless speaks a universal language. In her new series of works, Greven combines the abstract and the explicit, infinite expanse and the smallest beginning.
For example, another painting <0> I shows two hands pulling a small body into the light of day.
The newborn's body is jet black, dotted with tiny white dots, and resembles a view of a cloudy night sky. Here an aesthetic continuation of metaphorical interest takes hold in Greven's work, but with entirely new potential.
One that is perhaps close to Arendt's understanding and at the same time knows how to postulate painting as a constant new beginning. And is not water itself the basic condition of life and the promise of a new beginning?