Trude Viken: Midnight Theater

24 June - 17 July 2021

The people that are all one person in these paintings don’t seem light, new, handily sketched or birthed in ease. All the paintings are clogged with duration: ochre sours, cobalt leaks and greys. They are like those blotchy, colorful ‘aura’ photographs you can buy, but if the aura was made of glue. Layers of oil paint grow over the drawing like moss over a fallen trunk; generations of microbiomes bloom and die in the distance between image and viewer. The paint looks alive, wet and murky and reproductive, as if the painting itself is churning out new expressions. Nothing has grown a shell, and it is this vulnerability that kindles the momentum behind the work. When describing a piece, Viken observes, “I process it until the shapes are dissolved and the images meet my intentions and requirements... Almost everything is allowed.” The materials are twisted and coiled, knotted up into effortful distortions, but appear mercurial, fluid. Tension hovers in the outline of the women’s hairdos. Their faces may have flooded, detached, floated away, but often, Viken’s selves have firm bouffants, Farrah Fawcett curls, or two sinewy braids. Fantasy curdles. Femininity rises to the surfaces, un-drowned. In full, the paintings demonstrate the fitful work of allowing oneself to be and change. Over many small glimpses, she is almost everything. - Text by Audrey Wollen

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