Svenja Deininger: Echo of a Mirror Fragment
With Svenja Deininger the Secession is presenting an artist who represents a younger generation of Austrian painters in its main exhibition space. Deininger, who was born in Vienna in 1974 first studied in Münster under conceptual artist Timm Ulrichs and later painting under Albert Oehlen in Düsseldorf. Her idiosyncratic pictorial composition on the one hand and, on the other, the specific way in which the painting is designed layer by layer is characteristic of her works, which balance between abstraction and a figuration that is – at least – hinted at. This method of working corresponds to her interest in suggesting spaciality on the flat canvas or asserting a certain materiality that is permanently poised between becoming concrete and remaining indefinite. Deininger regards painting as a process: she does not consider her pictures, on which she often works over long periods of time, to be self-contained entities. It is, rather, that the process of creating an image serves to stimulate reflection and acts as a mental continuation of a form or composition – the imagining of the future picture and how is located in a spatial context are thus essential elements of the artistic process. As if working on a text the artist elaborates and polishes the syntax of her art. She considers her works to be parts of a system that require their interrelations to be analysed whenever they encounter one another. She alternates large and small format pictures and by means of combining and positioning them in a space she creates a tension, which, together with her range of shapes, results in a ‘Deiningerian idiom’.
Due to the alternating application and removal of multiple layers of primer colour coatings, lines and forms appear differently present on the painting’s surface– the in front and behind seems to be in flux constantly. In an elaborate work process, in some patches the artist removes or reduces the dried paint where it has been applied by multiple sandings or strippings only to go on to apply new layers of colour that are opaque or translucent. In many of her pictures parts of the canvas aren’t painted. Thus, Deininger makes the painting support an issue and the canvas itself becomes a compositional instrument while the colour and character of the fabric assume the function of design elements. In this reduced colour palette, it is mainly white (in many different shades) that sets the tone with the addition of determining, quiet shades of grey, green and blue. The artist contrasts delicate colour gradients with accentuated lines and edges; dark forms drenched in shadows are placed alongside radiant and vibrant colour fields.