Barnard is pleased to present Strange Light, Alexia Vogel’s fifth solo show with the gallery.
This new collection of work sees Vogel continuing to refine a signature visual language which, while echoing the floral and tropical motifs of previous work, now appears in its most distilled form yet. In these bold, abstract new works brushstrokes hold their own significance, marks made become events in and of themselves. Having always been directed first and foremost by process - the spontaneous flow of paint canvas, the instinctual thrust of gesture – Vogel now brings the physicality and movement of paint to centre stage.
Having moved away from the dreamy landscapes of her earlier work, Strange Light sees Vogel launching into graphic mark marking charged with a new linearity and kineticism. Yet in being her most abstract collection to date it is also her most introspective. Charting new artistic territory, Vogel enters into a dialogue with the unknown. Within this confrontation lurks a tremor of fear, perhaps even of menace. Having once been observers of distant landscapes, we now feel immersed in their very centre, surrounded on all sides by a dense, sticky mass. A new moodiness enters Vogel’s work, evoked by unexpected shapes and darker hues.
This darker palette speaks simultaneously to another shift in Vogel’s practice: a move to Berlin, and a change in studio space. Once spoiled with natural light in her Paarden Eiland studio, Vogel now works under fluorescent light in a basement studio in Kreuzberg. A small window offers a half view onto street level and allows little air. Reduced ventilation means Vogel must work with less turpentine - previously used to strip paint and create transparent washes of colour - resulting in more intense hues. With the harsh light changing the appearance of colours, Vogel must repeatedly take her paintings outside to gauge her compositions in daylight. There is a sense of trickery and mischievousness which the artist must dance around, her paintings showing different versions of themselves depending on their position in space and light.
Space and light – these have always been central concerns within Vogel’s practice. Whether fantasy landscapes or realms evoked in memory, Vogel is exquisitely sensitive in capturing the emotional charge of an environment. Here, this sensitivity is not explicitly represented but implicitly manifested. Her paintings do not recreate her environment so much as they speak visually to its new constraints and unexpected inspirations. Far from home, Vogel yearns for wilderness, and the nostalgia which has characterised so much of her work reveals its melancholy nature. Arcing lines echo palm fronds, swirling curves suggest waves or petals, but coalesce into a vivid new language thrumming with the tension between memory and novelty.