Thought traveling

Anne Speier, Freitag, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Efremidis, Berlin.

Review
Dienstag bis Sonntag
October 16 – November 18, 2021
Efremidis, Berlin

Intriguing is probably the best way to describe it. What do the cocks have to do with the white blank spaces; why these loose colour flows; why are some so accurate, some in comic-style, some seemingly digitally rendered (does anyone remember the computer game “Chicken War”?!)

The paintings show figures, faces, forms, colours, objects. What are these forms and figures? Moods, questions; episodes; stadiums?

Anne Speier’ exhibition Dienstag bis Sonntag [Tuesday to Sunday] presents a journey through the week, as well as through art and visual history. Started as an experiment by painting each painting only on a certain day of the week, the paintings opened from a weekly reflection to an investigation on – artistic – time. There are art historical references throughout the show: James Ensor, the early Chagall, Dutch 17th-centruy painting and 18th-century caricature; a remote Georgia O’Keefe (Finale, 2021). 

What is striking about the works is the incredible versality in handling the paint – loose and painterly, realistic, plane. Even silk-screen printed areas in oil. By times, the application of paint resembles wall painting: rough, thick, uneven; even some sandy parts. Then, again, complete perfection in rendering faces and forms. Traditional materials and techniques go 21st century.

The colours range from bright pink and blue to muted ochre and rose. And always these blank white geometric areas. Although the paintings originally had their designated painting days, with time the structure got lost. Maybe that’s where the blank areas stem from? Spaces for reflection and spontaneity. The unstructured.

Anne Speier, Sonntag, 2021, detail. Courtesy of the artist and Efremidis, Berlin.

Equally significant in the paintings are their figures. None of the faces of these figures look happy. They are serious, concerned, thoughtful. The one smiling monk in Freitag [Friday] seems rather desperately drunk. That’s for the caricature. The radish, bread, and abstracted cabbage do their bits. The school children in Mittwoch [Wednesday] seem just as annoyed, struggling and bored about some strange blue mountain motif. The mountain we climb? (no reference intended here.)

Not only do the paintings unfold as a journey through art history, but through centuries generally: there is Antiquity (Donnerstag[Thurday]), 17th-/18th-century, end 19th– or early 20th-century, 1960s to the contemporary. Anne Speier drew inspiration from historical prints and paintings when setting out for her artistic undertaking. Presented together, these influences seem to fuse in a strange non- or not-yet-time, creating a visual and emotional space on their own.

Likewise, one might encounter different societal groups in the paintings, “classes”: nobility, clerics, workers, farmers, modern ‘mixed’ society. And the days of the week all uniting them? What a collective – universal – idea. There is no universal interpretation intended here. These are exceptional paintings, all in their respect. They leave riddles. With thought- and time-travel in between.