The Venetia Kapernekas Gallery is pleased to present new work by Norbert Witzgall, for his first solo exhibition in New York.
Wir, the German word for we was chosen as the title by the artist for a double reason: we, the viewers, we the paintings, face each other in the gallery space, and wir, in lieu of I, accounts for the many ways his paintings go.
A large portrait of Berlin based artist Sophie-Therese Trenka-Dalton will dominate the gallery. She looks imperial, positioned in a weird perspective, in a room where Picabia inspired paintings hang on the walls and blue patterns cover the floor in the form of a carpet. The diminutive portrait of Matthew Robert Lutz Kinoy, another artist friend, at the right lower corner of the painting forces us to read the work as a spoof of an annunciation scene. Behind the central figure and her striking red gold hair a window allows us to escape while reminding us of the persistent symbolic use of this architectural element in the history of painting.
The opposite wall is covered with smaller works, Witzgall’s preferred size. His relationship to painting is rooted in his desire to consume photographic images, mostly mythologized portraits of stars, but also of relatives who feature in his family’s photo albums, especially those he never met. His interest in this long gone moment also comes through when he paints his contemporaries: his lovers, his artist friends are usually photographed in his studio before the process of painting can begin. This need to stylize and set a distance between himself and his subject matter also reverberates in his approach to his medium: his constant disbelief in this tradition, his unease with his own virtuosity results in additions and subtractions: dirt, glitter, day-glo stars, dried flowers, bark, chestnuts are added on the surface of the works to play down his obvious love of the brush.