Nino Mier Gallery is pleased to announce its second solo exhibition with Australian artist Madeleine Pfull, opening July 25th and on view through August 31th, 2020 at Salon Nino Mier in Cologne, Germany.
“Life stands still here.”
(Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, 1925)
“isn't it amazing that a completely invisible thing in your head can feel realer than anything you've experienced before?”
(Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections, 2001)
Madeleine Pfull’s paintings focus on a complex world that is deeply rooted in the everyday. An aesthetic that – as Dr Oliver Watts described it – “refuses to see the ordinary and everyday as meaningless”. Her works transform banality into something intriguing and highlights it as a multi-facetted microcosm. Pfull celebrates the moderate behavior and average looks of the women in her paintings whilst also echoing their hidden emotional as well as social ambivalence, emphasized further by their ordinary surroundings. In situations in which a moment can be endless, and time passing reveals itself as an almost symbolic parameter, these usually invisible characters expose their inner selves.
Pfull’s new paintings take up this notion of time passing and transfer the viewer into a private and quieter atmosphere: an environment into which her now singular characters retreat. Seen from the outside, they can be perceived as the ‘invisible women’. The ones we all know. The ones that usually hide away their emotions. These women only allow failure to happen in moments of total privacy and seclusion. They scrunch up their face while having a smoke on the sofa, deeply relax in an armchair, spill milk on the floor and immerse into a hidden space of their own. An emotional inner room that Madeleine Pfull subtly captures in stages of solitude, of tedium, of anxiety: in moments where they feel safe.
Pfull’s women, to some extent, emulate our own emotional states. This is achieved by exaggerating their facial expressions through an almost hyperreal and historically charged style of painting referencing Otto Dix’s and the New Objectivity in the during 1920s. By looking at their faces we feel their doubts and their strengths. We begin to empathize with them by imagining their fictitious life stories whilst also questioning: What was their past? What have they been through? And what had happened to them that initiated their introspection? Instead of answering these questions or engaging into an emotional dialogue with the viewer, Pfull’s characters constantly withdraw themselves in front of us like a sphinx. They enjoy being private with an almost implicit ironic pleasure that is disguised through a dark and enigmatic aura.
Using an almost cinematic quality that captures the ambiguous looks of the protagonists on two canvases with subtle differences, Pfull enriches the suggestion of an internalized quest to their possible real selves. A quest we are eager to see, but they sublimely deny us access to – like a modern heroin from the old days of the silver screen era. Extended with this psychological twist, we can perceive their cinematic vulnerability as strengths and the uncertainty of their emotional state as a powerful repertoire that reverses the structures of voyeuristic representation. This multilayered construction of a character is a way of empowerment. A method to create a trope. It enables us to experience the full capacity of an invented character – and the elegancy hidden within the everyday.
Philipp Fernandes do Brito