The works by the Swiss painter Christine Streuli (b. 1975, Berne) deal with courtship and seduction. She appropriates the strategies of contemporary as well as historical media and materials, condensing and exaggerating images and patterns into a space-devouring plethora holding entirely new visual experiences. At Haus am Waldsee, Streuli‘s first institutional solo show in Berlin, she will place her emphasis on a kind of painting that unfolds, layer by layer, into space.
Streuli‘s works feed on ornamental and graphic elements, colours, geometries and patterns, which she generates from the existing imageries of the internet, advertising, printed textiles from around the world as well as historical image material. While her works are painterly in appearance, she rarely resorts to the brush. Rather, she depicts traces of brushstrokes. What is more, she works with stencilled fragments of paper, dot matrices, fields and contour lines built up to large-scale collages by means of printing techniques such as decalcomania, cut out and others. The pictures attain their high visual density by layering, staggering and interlacing. They, like the commercial advertisements all around us, are carriers of emotion rather than information.
In her works Streuli achieves a high degree of optical saturation that reaches the intensity of an allover through the means of pop. The artist regularly draws on source material from art history. For instance, she has appropriated existing material by the early 17th century painter Sebastian Stosskopf who was celebrated all over Europe for his precise still lifes of alluring fruit and luxurious Venetian glasses. Streuli produced small-scale interpretations, which she then went on to quote in her own large-scale works. She also makes recourse to sample books with engravings of ornamentation or psaligraphy dating back to the Renaissance period. Hence she develops her own new pictorial worlds from the totality of the artificial imagery of advertising, historical art and ornamentation. Fruit, acanthus, stars or motifs from psaligraphy, interlacing and quodlibets of fake text documents afford compositional stability to the otherwise mostly abstract paintings. Surfaces from different contexts and periods encounter each other.
Streuli‘s works unfold their high energy levels through abstract signs of velocity, temperature, colour tone and spatiality. Quotes, repetitions and mirror effects animate the pictorial scores that are as spontaneous in appearance as they are sophisticated in their planning and execution. The artist always adheres to the thought of “both-and” instead of “either-or,” working both into the plane and in depth. She succeeds in relating vigorously agitated elements to thoroughly organised graphical quotations so that each new work generates the impression of comprehensive simultaneity. Therefore Streuli‘s paintings can also be read as statements on the prevailing global information community, which poses a challenge to every individual by its boundless availability.
Streuli‘s fierce paraphrases open hitherto unseen, utopian fields of experience. They cannot be reduced to specific messages and singular statements because their immediate aim is the emotional state of the viewer who, if he is willing to embark on this journey of signs and colours, senses that he is being seduced while he is being enabled to enjoy surprisingly new experiences within the dynamic ecstasy of these pictorial worlds.
In 2007 the artist displayed her works in the Swiss Pavilion for the 52nd Biennale in Venice. She has lived in Berlin since 2008.
A catalogue in German and English has been published by Verlag Walther König.
Supported by the borough council Steglitz-Zehlendorf of Berlin; Capital Cultural Fund; the Senate of Berlin; Cultural Council of Steglitz-Zehlendorf of Berlin / Decentral cultural program; Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia; Friends and Supporters of Haus am Waldsee e.V., Atrium Malereibetrieb GmbH, Gebrüder Tonsor – Farben und Raumgestaltung, German Theatre Berlin