Magazine article Artforum International

Kristina Jansson: Galerie Aronowitsch

Magazine article Artforum International

Kristina Jansson: Galerie Aronowitsch

Article excerpt

Two of the thirteen paintings in Kristina Jansson's captivating exhibition take their titles from Mensch und Sonne, Hans Suren's 1924 book of photographs that campaigned for the utopist benefits of a nudist life. These monumental paintings are architectural scenes of an interior and an exterior conceivably from the same sanctuary for pleasure-seeking. Both the sun-drenched exterior and the murky indoors show Jansson's persuasive ability to paint with a mixed bouquet of opulence and decadence. With this conceit of hedonism in full play, Suren helps Jansson with the heavy lifting. A former officer in the German Army, undoubtedly influenced by his colonial service in the tropics, Suren used his camera to re-create scenes from the naked and blithe life of Germanic tribes prior to their contact with the more reticent Christian civilization. His pictures present oiled Aryan sun worshippers gaily dancing in foaming surf, cheerily harvesting the fields, or striking poses that bloom rococo musculature.

Mensch und Sonne (all works 2005) is a poolside view from within a compound whose architectural centerpiece, a panoptical aluminum cylinder festooned with eight protruding tubes, is as inconspicuous as a UFO landing on a Case Study House. From all appearances the compound is deserted--presumably because everyone is out of doors indulging in freestyle nudism. The stark interior, with its modernist furniture, is a page torn from Wallpaper. Jansson's painting style is a succulent and visceral affair where lush color and brushwork provide pure luxe. But against this she incites tension with drips that trickle and ooze with decay and dread.

At first Mensch und Sonne II seems to show the shadowy hideout for one of James Bond's antagonists, until it becomes clear you're standing before the nub of an aging sexual scoundrel's empire, a silly pleasure dome with all the trimmings: round bed, mirrored ceiling, mood lighting. …

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