Anna Virnich, Installation view, 2013, Bonner Kunstverein. Photo: Simon Vogel
On the occasion of Walther Dahn’s class exhibition “La Bonne Horse” in 2010, Anna Virnich (*1984, Berlin, lives and works in Berlin) presented some works at Bonner Kunstverein. In that context, she exhibited octagonal stretcher frames over which she had stretched several layers of fabric. The materiality and the colors of these textile pictures created a haptic space that played out the tensions between surface and volume. Taking photography as a starting point, Virnich’s practice has increasingly shifted towards painting over these past years, although no traces of acrylic or oil painting can be found in her works. It is rather the structural elements of painting that she comes to terms with, for instance, the relationship between the stretcher frame and the canvas or with compositional methods such as the superimposition of fabric layers in her images. Her sculptures can be seen as a spatial extension of her fabric images; and, reciprocally, although her fabric images resemble paintings, they nonetheless take on a sculptural character.
Last year the artist, who grew up in Cologne and received her degree as a master student at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK), had her first solo presentations in the Städtische Galerie Remscheid and the Malkasten Düsseldorf, among other places. Virnich’s project, which she conceived specifically for the entrance hall of the Bonner Kunstverein, seems to have grown from a constellation of opposites. A relief-like structure out of narrow wooden profiles expands along the foyer wall like a broken line. Its horizontal alignment is interrupted here and there by vertical wooden elements. The structure displays variations in height that follow those of the ceiling. The resulting form echoes the site’s architecture and, despite its delicate stature, stands out clearly from the white wall. It could even be viewed as a balustrade that leads the viewer into the exhibition hall. Lengths of fabric, at times fixed, at times loose, are appended to the wood and complete the relief. Some of them evoke impasto paint squeezed directly from the tube. On other spots, the fabric has been extended across fragmentary rectangles that resemble stretcher frames; their tension contrasts with the loosely arranged pieces of cloth. These variations posit accents and interludes in the relief while their color nuances set up a rhythm in the room.
The special format of this foyer presentation that will be on view for several months allows to discover new elements in the work and to gradually perceive it differently. This getting-closer process and the familiarity that develops in time are something the artist aims to subtly disrupt by undertaking slight changes over the course of the exhibition. Simultaneously, the color of the textile elements will fade slightly over the months and in some places become subdued. The images that visitors have kept in their memories will be shifted by the new appearance of the piece, altered by the effects of light on the material and by Anna Virnich’s minimal interventions, memories that, like the work itself, are bound up with a transformational process.
Likewise on the opening, we will present the artist’s first monograph. The book, Ruby Woo, is published in association with Virnich’s last-year eponymous solo exhibition at Galerie DREI in Cologne and will be presented for the first time that evening. On this occasion, Christina Végh (director), Fanny Gonella (curator) and the artist herself will discuss her approach to print media, the autonomy of the artwork and the relationship between an original artwork and its printed reproduction.
The exhibition was made possible by the benefit concert of the pianist Susanne Kessel and sponsorship by Knauber Co. The publication will appear thanks to the generous support of the Deutsche Bank Mönchengladbach, as well as of Robert Funcke and Silvie Biewald.