press release

It’s Your Painting

In her new suite of paintings, Monique Van Genderen employs a diverse vocabulary, borrowing the swaggering and sparse harshness of high modernism (think Abstract Expression, but not drunk or suicidal) and the bright and bold vacancy of design (think Santa Monica, but not tedious or moneyed) in order to question ideas about the status and place of painting. At once graceful and industrial, like a robot ballerina, Van Genderen’s work is very much a kind of painting born of a Southern California milieu and reflects of the possibility for beauty in the quotidian visual experiences of the urbanite. In her invocation of the high and low as comparable, if not ultimately married, through the democratization of materials and form, Van Genderen makes a subtle but pressing argument for the politicized potential of abstraction. The paintings propose to ask what the limits of material and content are. They demonstrate the level at which complex concepts, both within the hermetic boundaries of art and moving into the lived world, can be considered with a restrained vocabulary and a salient idea.

The sensual, almost fetishized appearance of the canvases, in keeping with Van Genderen’s common use of vinyl and high-gloss enamel paint, pushes notions of abstraction and surface to the forefront, alluding to the dense history of non-figurative painting. Complicating the historical precedent for her work is Van Genderen’s punctuation of the highly atmospheric treatment of the canvas with loose gestural flower-like patternings. Resisting strict definition, these incoherent marks at once offer the suggestion of depth and ground, while also flattening the works, reinforcing the surface. These moments of banal recognition allow the viewer the freedom to become immersed in the unfamiliar space of abstraction, a point of reference on an otherwise uncharted expanse. Less forceful, and perhaps more romantic than previous work, Van Genderen seems to be exploring the possibilities for the painterly side of hard abstraction, one which maintains a tenuous hold in the narrative of painting, functioning fully within themselves and alluding to everything just outside the frame. These paintings offer a space where aesthetics serve to unify disparate ideas and suggest the potential for the eradication of a system that is deeply rooted in hierarchical thinking. I think I can believe in the power of abstraction.

Diana Nawi

The Michael Janssen Gallery Berlin is pleased to present in a solo exhibition new large-scale paintings in high-gloss enamel paint on wood and expansive vinyl wall collages by Monique van Genderen. The paintings, in addition to watercolours and gouaches which are bound together in portfolios and fitted into tree-trunk bench-sculptures, will be on view between 15th March and 19th April 2008.

Monique van Genderen was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1965 and lives in Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions 2006: Hammer Projects, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta. 2005: Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus. 2004: Chinati Foundation, Marfa (Texas).

only in german

Dirty Water
Monique van Genderen