From April 5th to 16th 2022, independent art space Galerie Pleiku in Berlin exhibits Annaliisa Krage’s solo exhibition “Soft hands, soft feet (working title)“. The works in
the exhibition approach painting purely as a practice of applying paint onto a surface, searching for ways of reconciling art history and her suburban surroundings. In the rep- etition of the painterly mark, Krage looks for an equivalent to the repetition of daily tasks and routines in her new family life.
Asked about the inspiration for Soft hands, soft feet (working title), Krage explained her curious journey from labyrinths to the dotted patterns of her paintings. “I heard a woman explain in a radio interview that labyrinths, unlike mazes, always have one starting and one endpoint. She explained how she drew labyrinths in moments of distress and anxie- ty. You cannot get lost in a labyrinth, as it will always lead you somewhere. This resonat- ed with me and I had high hopes to find a fountain of endless artistic ideas at the center of labyrinths“.
The fountain is a recurring image in Krage’s exhibition at Galerie Pleiku. In Paulas Gar- ten, a fountain is surrounded by an octagonal flowerfield enclosed by walls. The painting on a plaster base appears like a membrane, opaque and luminous at the same time. “Painting Paulas Garten was as much a breathing practice, every flower petal attesting to my trembling hand, as it creates a mental space for the viewer.”
Paulas Garten refers to Paula Modersohn-Becker’s painting Two women in a garden with fountain (ca. 1905). “I would have loved to see Modersohn-Becker’s work after her child was born. She would have made it work, conforming her artistic work to being a mother.”
Imagined picture functions as a centerpiece of the exhibition. The painting shows a scene of four silhouettes gazing towards a point beyond the frame of the painting. The motif is taken from a fresco by Altichiero da Zevio from the 1470s, details of which Krage photographed on a trip to Padova. “I returned to these photographs from 2018 when traveling to Italy for a residency in November 2021. I wondered what these strangely soft feet and hands were that I had photographed.” Krage compiled sets of colors to recreate the harmonious color fields of the original through small painted dots. She compares the experience of painting these dots to scrolling through endless ran- dom images and videos on her phone, turning into mere flickers of digital color and light over time.
Krage recollected a peculiar moment she shared with her sister while beginning work on Imagined picture. “After contemplating in silence for a long while, my sister wondered whether she would paint more dots today than she had days left to live. She hurried to say she did not intend to sound morbid, but her curiosity had already infected me to make a quick calculation.”
The average life expectancy for a female born in 1996 is 80 years, which equals 29.200 days. Subtracting her current age of 26 years leaves 19.710 days remaining. After four days of work by two people, we had painted an average of eight dots per cm2. A can- vas of 80 x 200 cm has a total area of 16.000 cm2, multiplied by the average eight dots per cm2 amounts to 128.000 dots. 16.000 dots per person per day (128.000 / 4 / 2) equals 81% of the remaining days of her average life expectancy.
Work has continued many days after this. But I don’t see that the painting is finished yet, and I don’t know when it will be. In a way, it may be more of an idea of a painting, than it is one to the eye.”