Come Close and Step Back
This exhibition brings together the work of two painters who were selected for the 2019 Winsor & Newton Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin: Pia Krajewski (Cologne, 1990) and Irina Ojovan (Chisinau, 1988).
While Pia Krajewski maximizes the presence of a figurative motif through monumental close-ups, Irina Ojovan seems interested in the opposite movement, reducing the clues that could identify the motifs underlying her paintings. What the artists share is an interest in taking images from the exterior world, isolating them, and transforming them into a reduced painterly vocabulary. To grasp the paintings in their full scope, the viewer has to move closer to and further from the canvases, collecting sensations of texture and touch from close by, or seeing the overall image from a more distant perspective.
The paintings of Pia Krajewski present us with close-ups of figurative motifs such as a piece of rope, a vegetable, or a pine cone. Krajewski treats such motifs with an abstract eye, rearranging them and reducing their forms to essential lines, curves, and a play of light and shadow. Through blowing up details in size, and through modeling, she highlights their plasticity. Meanwhile the way the paint is applied produces flatness, and counteracts the illusionism of the image. Areas where two colors or shapes meet attract special attention, as that is where weight or gravity is evoked, and an ambiguous spatial orientation within the painting is defined. Krajewski completed her master’s degree at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 2018, where she studied with Dietmar Lutz and Andreas Schulze.
A bird’s eye perspective on a city or a building provides Irina Ojovan with formal motifs to use in a painting. The artist is not usually eager to disclose the exact visual sources of her motifs. It would distract from what is important to her: the rounded shapes as they define a sense of order or present slight disruptions. Forms and empty spaces become equally important, once they co-exist in Ojovan’s paintings. Close to the canvas, contrasts between gloss or matte, or the way black is affected by pink, can be experienced in the most tactile and direct way. Yet to grasp the work as a whole, and to perceive it as an act of balance, it is necessary to step back and have a look from further away. For the series presented in this exhibition, Ojovan worked with a limited palette of black, pink, and green. She completed her master’s degree at the Akademie für bildenden Künste in München in 2018, where she studied with Günther Förg and Gregor Hildebrandt, among others.
Curated by Jurriaan Benschop