Azulis Venosus, 2005

Photo: Courtesy the artist | Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo

Digital C-print
33 x 22 cm (unframed)
55.4 x 43.6 x 1.8 cm (framed)

“Recording and evoking the wonders of nature,”[1] Janaína Tschäpe composes visually arresting photographs. Drawing on the history of the flower motif and still life in art, in the photo series Botanica plants—like some sort of Baudelairean flowers of evil—emerge from an almost inscrutable darkness, oddly iridescent in their exoticism. Created in gardens in Weimar, Germany, and the artist’s private garden in Brooklyn, in these photographs, the existing vegetation is embellished with plasticine or newly fabricated forms, that reference human reproductive organs or whimsical flowers and otherworldly vegetables. In Azulis Venosus, blue strings of what could be slime or other forms of fluidity, pour out of a dark hole, surrounded by fertile, green vegetation with white blooming cudweed (Galium odoratum). Examining the peculiarity of flowers, Tschäpe contrives to alter their symbolic function. Characterized by the duality of the uncanny and the beautiful, the photographs with their faux-Latin titles present an unfamiliar, artificial nature, provoking “the viewer to question what is natural and what is made by the artist, as the differential between the two is not clear. Tschäpe plays with the notions of fantasy and fairy tale, creating works that could be snippets from a children’s tale—such as Alice in Wonderland, which features incredible gardens. Yet the works still embody a sense of the natural. (…) The settings Tschäpe conceives in her works are vibrant, seductive, surreal, and at the same time contemplative, still and melancholic. Her fabricated creatures and vegetation enhance existing botanical environments by taking them into the realm of dream and fantasy. A compelling tension is created though this process, resulting in an unusual artifice.”[2] (TBA21)

[1] Germano Celant, “Tschäpe the Dragon,“ in Janaina Tschäpe (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2017), 21.
[2] Andrea Green, “Melantropics,” in Janaina Tschäpe, Melantropics (exh. cat. Contemporary Arts Museum St. Louis, 2006), 9–11.
Janaina Tschäpe was born in 1973 in Munich, Germany, and was raised in São Paulo, Brazil. She received her Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Hochschule für Bildende Kueste, Hamburg in 1997 and her Master in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 1998. Tschäpe’s interdisciplinary practice spans painting, drawing, photography, video and sculpture. Incorporating elements of aquatic, plant, and human life, Tschäpe’s universe of sublime forms shift between representation, fantasy and abstraction.
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