wanderlust

Domestic Bliss Amiss

Edite Grinberga's domestic-themed paintings show what it must feel like to be an artist under house arrest. Julie Anne gets lost in the order and disorder of normal household objects...

Housed in the rather upscale Friedmann-Hahn Gallery near the chic Savignyplatz and surrounded by a notable assortment of fancy cafes and restaurants, Edite Grinberga‘s paintings from 2009-2012 fit in perfectly as if right at home. My first impression is that the neatness of Grinberga’s paintings, in part due to the clean precision of her painting style and the domestic homely theme of the work, accentuate the gallery’s luxurious and quiet feel. But upon closer look, the seemingly peaceful domestic scenes actually display domestic disorder with some artistic restraint.

The disorder in our daily lives…

From the distance Grinberga’s large-scale canvas look amazingly photographic. Her precision in painting is truly astounding, it is only when you are closer to the canvas that you realize it is actually a painting. All of the paintings show scenes from a home-setting, where a mundane object takes center-stage and is illuminated by a source of light, sometimes coming from an open window. Household objects include chairs, curtains, suitcases, piles of paper, and even musical instruments such as a cello. The paintings almost reminds me of my house growing up as a child with two older brothers — except our house was a lot less neat and there was definitely more clutter lying around! The emptiness and open space in the paintings leaves an unsettling feeling in the viewer, as if something or someone is missing.

Each painting has some sort of disorder or movement that brings the canvas to life and keeps the paintings from simply displaying peaceful, and thus what could be potentially boring, domestic scenes. Whether an open suitcase or passport, wind moving through a curtain, a bright red scarf sprawled across a plain wooden chair, or a pile of papers strewn about with a surprising cameo appearance of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. There is a sense of mysterious agency and movement… what has caused this disorder in an otherwise neat domestic setting? Another painting shows a not-so-child-friendly, old-school punching bag lying across the floor after being used. Whoever needed to release their pent-up agression definitely did so and then left quickly without tidying up the space!

Edite Grinberga - 2 Pässe
Oops… Accidently forgot your passport? Edite Grinberga Paintings 2009 – 2012, Courtesy of Friedmann-Hahn Galerie

Walk into the shadows…

Grinberga’s paintings take over the gallery and use the space quite well. The darker rooms in the back of the gallery display the more “messy” or disordered paintings, the dim lighting also aiding the interplay of light and darkness used in the artwork. A plush deep red couch hidden away in the back allows visitors to sit and reflect on the artwork while reading the artist’s detailed book explaining the exhibit and her paintings. The cosy and quiet space, along with the theme of the artwork, makes for perfect serenity at the end of a busy work day… until you remember that you too have an apartment waiting for you that may be in desperate need of some cleaning and order…