Berlin-based artist and writer Michaela Eichwald (Germany, b. 1967) maintains a restless and fearless belief in the possibility of painting. Bringing together pieces made over the last 15 years, this first US museum exhibition reveals the wide variety of references in her work, drawing on references to theology, philosophy, and art history, while also reflecting on her own life: her surroundings, thinking, reading, and friends.
Following studies in philosophy, history, art history, and German philology in Cologne, Eichwald emerged as an artist, with her first exhibition held at Galerie Daniel Buchholz in 1997. The context of Cologne—at the time, an undisputed center of European contemporary art—proved formative for Eichwald, a place where she maintained a lively exchange of ideas with many intellectuals and fellow artists, including Kai Althoff, Jutta Koether, Michael Krebber, Josef Strau, and Charline von Heyl, among others. In 2006, Eichwald began episodically blogging on uhutrust.com, providing a logbook with insight into her practice, everyday musings, and contemplations of current affairs.
Bridging abstraction and figuration, Eichwald’s densely layered paintings—often made on unconventional surfaces such as printed canvas or imitation leather—bear an alchemical combination of acrylic, oil, tempera, spray paint, mordant, graphite, varnish, and lacquer. Whether in large- or small-scale formats, her works combine smooth paint strokes and quick smudges, at times revealing figurative forms and snippets of text. Discussing her preference for pleather, the artist notes, “artificial leather has something repulsive, inelegant, something that cannot be easily classified in art history.” This sense of refusing to fall within conventions underscores Eichwald’s practice. While her works are part of a lineage of abstraction, they resist any direct connection to a particular movement or period, instead churning through a history of painterly styles and combining them in surprising ways.
To create her sculptures, Eichwald pours resin into bags, rubber gloves, and plastic bottles, in which she collects—like objects captured in amber—uncommon and dissonant materials, such as chicken bones, erasers, jewelry, mushrooms, fishing tackle, needles, candy, small drawings, and hard-boiled eggs. At once repulsive and alluring, grotesque and seductive, these pieces bring to mind associations ranging from trophies and time capsules to the human digestive system.
Interspersed throughout the exhibition is a newly commissioned long-form poem by her friend, writer Ulf Stolterfoht, created especially in response to the selection of works on view.
Curator: Pavel Pyś, curator, Visual Arts
The exhibition will be on view November 14, 2020–May 16, 2021.
Note: This exhibition was previously scheduled to be on view June 4–November 8, 2020.
Virtual Exhibition Talk: Laura Hoptman on Michaela Eichwald
November 14, Free
To celebrate the opening of Michaela Eichwald’s first US museum exhibition, curator and writer Laura Hoptman will offer a virtual lecture that surveys the artist’s practice. Looking across Eichwald’s paintings, drawings and sculptures, Hoptman will seek key motifs and subject matters recurring throughout Eichwald’s work. The lecture will be screening online for free beginning at 10 am (CDT) November 14 and will be available online throughout the duration of the exhibition.