Entering Cornelia Baltess latest solo exhibition at Frutta Gallery
, the viewer is immediately confronted with 13 paintings on board suspended from the ceiling. Freed from the walls, the paintings actively occupy the room, seemingly of their own accord. As we navigate a course through the exhibition the paintings reveal and obscure each other, decoupling, recoupling and unsettling our understanding of them. In the exhibition, Baltes reconfigures the archetype of display by transforming Frutta Gallery into a setting where the viewer experiences an imaginative attempt away from pre-existing modes of display. The works float above us, their jet black negative space--made by routing the edges on the reverse-presents an escape from modern reason and the art histories of the masculine subject.
On one, white lines gesture upwards. On another, geometric forms force a sense of depth, a harmonious, nuanced way for exploring the ground between space and each composition. Elements of some of the paintings are cut and sliced with blocks of colour and line, but soon thereafter the eye begins to register subtle, human and quasi-human contours, foregrounding an inherent surface tension in her work. Seen together, these works unveil prospects in painting both hidden and latent, lines that seemingly come alive reveal the storytelling power of line and contour, foreground and background. Beneath these bold surfaces, Baltess technique uncovers new, unconventional aspects of playfulness. The humour and depth of her gestures thereby function as freedom to associate between imagery and idea, rhythmic patterns that oscillate with themes borrowed from everyday life.
This ultimately leads to a condensation and sense of dynamism in her work, lines that may appear like clothing, bodies or facial expressions on the one hand, instead contain multilayered meanings and relief-like potentialities. In their overlap, different associations enter the viewers mind, a reminder that abstraction is not an evasion of the real, but rather an affirmation of the real. The movement and depth of her works burst forth with aesthetic multiplicities, while at the same time highlighting an alternative sense of presentation away from the rationalized space of the gallery wall.
Teamwork is an attempt to form a visual vocabulary and make sense of Baltess painterly tools and symbols. Initially, what may seem like a return to formalist and abstract painting instead references a multitude of new beginnings. The exhibition presents Baltess work in Frutta Gallery as a starting point for an expanded conversation on the elemental processes of contemporary painting, exploring the relationship between composition, colour, gesture and materiality. The patterns that emerge from her work not only react with one another, but in doing so unveil the exhibition space as a single, unified plane.