New York/Munich-based German multimedia artist Annina Roescheisen (b. 1982, Rosenheim) presents The Red Twine of Flying Dragons, an all-new selection of seven mixed media paintings and 13 mixed media and ink drawings from her ongoing Flying Dragons series. On view at Athenessa Gallery, Los Angeles, from November 7—December 5, 2021, the works build on the artist’s first and only exhibition of the series at Athenessa in 2019, as she pursues her investigation of human emotions, and of the human condition, as they materialize through color.
Cultivating her study of Medieval art, iconography, and fairy tales, Roescheisen draws her attention to the notion of bestiaries: collections of allegorical tales of animals, birds, and fantastic creatures, the first of which appeared in the 2nd century AD, in which each being is bestowed with a moral and symbolic quality. In Flying Dragons, she mirrors the symbolism of dragons onto her inner world. Emotions, like dragons, cannot be scientifically perceived. Yet, emotions are real. And as they are, dragons can be too. Moving beyond the questioning of their existence, and past the at times positive, at others negative nature conferred to dragons, she expresses instead their inherent power, one akin to that of emotions.
Through her creative process, the artist herself becomes subject and object of her myth. Weaving in the notion of alchemy, she meticulously blends pigments in the making of her own tints. She begins each painting with two colors, leaving the rest of her palette to raw intuition. Setting the canvas on the ground, her fingers take on the role of brushes; she delicately pours water onto it, her hands in turn glazing the surface and swiveling the canvas. Roescheisen’s creative sessions for one work can extend between 20 and 26 consecutive hours, as she slowly enters an altered state of physical and spiritual self and gradually composes her artistic language. Layers cumulate with time, in turn drying and imbibing the canvas. In her drawings, echoing the lavish illustrations of bestiary manuscripts, Roescheisen finely traces on the paper with a feather, punctuating it with dripping beads of the alchemically mixed colors.
In a constant emotional and rational interplay, Roescheisen’s dialogue with her own fantastic world, her own dragons, materializes on the canvas and on the paper. Forms appear, mirroring the manifold emotions that stir the artist at each given moment of the process. Lain across the works, these imaginary beings take on their widest sense as she encourages her viewer to delve into his own fantasy, to create and to name his own personal dragons.
In Téméraire (2021), “reckless” or “fearless” in French, the vivid blue and red colors are the first perceived, each attributed to a distinct dragon. The two phantasmagoric figures gradually build up to the viewer as blood vessel-like veins run down to their center. From there, the color tones become softer, diluting into shades of rosé, orange, purple, and yellow. Slowly, a form of kindness, at first concealed by the bright reds and blues, emerges from the canvas, glowing in the face of an apparent fearlessness.
“The attributes of each dragon’s character unfold through form and color – sometimes appearing as visible shapes, sometimes emanating from the colors that constitute them. Each form, each color evokes an emotion within us, and from it we begin to decipher, to imagine each dragon’s essence, its multiple personas. These dragons evoke an endless, unique range of emotions in each one of us, and with them we realize that we are in fact free to perceive, to see, to feel, and to interpret, ultimately each creating our very own dragons.”
To some of the drawings, she subtly adds a string of red yarn, sewn onto the paper. This red twine, sometimes present, sometimes absent, both visible and invisible, and which lends the exhibition its name, unfolds from one work to the other; it is the red line of her own myth, of her emotional journey within each work, playfully appearing then vanishing between each work. A visual leitmotiv, it ties the body of work together, a border between the real and the fictional, the seen and the unseen, the human and the dragon within each one.