April 26, 2008

Maria Lassnig: Embarrassment is a challenge

Viennese painter Maria Lassnig, nearly 90, has been producing work over a period of 60 years in Paris, New York and Vienna. An avant-garde pioneer with a feminist viewpoint, Lessnig's work was included in "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution." Lassnig continues to paint powerful, bold and introspective work that investigates human emotions and bodily sensations. In The Guardian, Adrian Searle calls Lassing a willful individualist of great dignity and extreme candour. "Lassnig's art, which shares traits with expressionism, reminds me intermittently of the American portraitist Alice Neel, and also of one grasping for connections with much younger generations of artists." Searle writes. "Martin Kippenberger was a fan; Paul McCarthy collects her paintings and has contributed an essay to the catalogue for this show, a text purposely disjointed and ripe with images of amputations, bodies turned inside out and impossible actions: 'The finger goes in the mouth up through the nostril cavity and out the eye-socket ... your arm is over here, your head is on the shelf, and your torso is on the chair.'

"McCarthy's disturbing psycho-sexual manipulations echo what Lassnig calls her 'Body-awareness paintings', and her more recent 'Drastic' paintings. These strands of her art are developed from the sensations one has of one's own body, mapped and felt from the inside, rather than from observation or through anatomy and what the mind already knows. In the past, she painted bodies as dumplings, bodies as sacks of potatoes. By contrast, her new paintings are all bulge and spike, thrust and recoil. These bodies are malleable plastic forms, rapidly executed, extruded and abbreviated against cursory or even bare backgrounds. At times, they remind me of Ren and Stimpy cartoons. Bodies are reduced to penile shafts. The mouths are in the wrong places. Limbs wither or bloat, noses become porcine snouts. Lassnig is in there, too, her own physiognomy morphing and struggling. These paintings have a weird filial relationship to Carroll Dunham, to Nicola Tyson, to the strange anthropomorphic plumbing in the early work of sculptor Eva Hesse." Read more.

"Maria Lassnig," Serpentine Gallery, London. Through June 8.

1 comments:

I don't think I've ever heard of her until now. Will have to look her up. Sounds fascinating.

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