One cannot address Wasmuht’s work without considering the seemingly full palette of digital-image aesthetics in her paintings: simulations of space, distortions, and displacements—even right down to the effect of a backlit computer screen. Generating the ideas for her pictures in the form of digital collages and computer sketches, Wasmuht’s initial source material derives from an array of abstracted and overlapping photographic imagery that she sources from a combination of the Internet and her own personal photographic archive. This material is then worked up into extremely complex, often very large-scale, panorama-like pictures depicting futuristic science-fictional landscapes of airport terminals, shopping centers, people in pedestrian zones, or, as Wasmuht refers to them more broadly, “structures,” which belong to our collective, global, everyday life.
Despite the slickness of these surfaces and the associated speed and immediacy of all things digital, Wasmuht’s multi-layered oil paintings take several months and in some cases even up to a year to complete. Working primarily with wood as a painting surface, she applies countless translucent thin layers of paint onto boards that have been repeatedly whitewashed and polished, making her pictures shine and appear to be illuminated from behind while giving their surfaces an immateriality that is full of movement. Wasmuht’s labor intensive materials and working conditions call into question painting’s status in the digital age—for the artist these concerns seem secondary to investigating a more profound, universal subconscious. In a recent interview with Sabine Eckmann the artist explains: “I like to compare my picture ideas to mirages. As a figure, the mirage has an unknown materiality, maybe comparable to that imagined by theories of a fourth state of matter or an eleven-dimensional gravitational field. For example, theoretical physicists use formulas and theories to represent relations that are invisible because they are beyond human imaginative capacities. Art is visible, it functions through seeing, but in my view it is always about the invisible, however paradoxical that may sound.”
To compliment this exhibition, Petzel has published a new exhibition catalogue also titled Alnitak. It features beautiful reproductions of Wasmuht's new and recent work, installation views and an interview with the artist and Dr. Sabine Eckmann. The catalogue is co-published with Walther Koenig.
Corinne Wasmuht was born in 1964 in Dortmund, Germany. After being raised in Argentina, she then returned to Germany where she studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. She currently lives and works in Berlin and teaches at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe. Wasmuht’s work has been exhibited extensively in both Europe and the United States. Recent solo exhibitions include the Kunsthalle Nürnberg (2010) and Kunsthalle zu Kiel (2014). Wasmuht has received several distinguished awards among them the Art Award of the City of Offenburg (2011) and most recently the Käthe-Kollwitz Prize (2014). Her work has been included in numerous international exhibitions including the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis (2011) and the 54th Venice Bienniale (2011). Her work is also in the permanent collections of the most important German institutions including the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Staedel Museum in Frankfurt, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Berlin’s Nationalgalerie and the Von der Heydt-Museum.