Grady Harp reviews Alexandra Wiesendfeld’s work in poets and artists 4.4.11

Palimpsest can be defined as something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form. Alexandra Wiesenfeld creates her mysteriously compelling canvases and works on paper using this very technique: more often than not her most successful paintings are those canvases repeatedly painted over, as though absorbing the history of the painting eroded while at the same time pushing to continually resolve portions of surfaces that may never be completed appears to be the drive to completely communicate the ideas that flood her mind. The results are paintings that appear to have a life of their own, a reservoir/repository/vault where the artist’s almost planned admixture of reality with the shadows of the unconscious emerge as figures of both human and beast in images readily accessible as stories – or visual questions.

Born in Munich, Wiesenfeld¬† is from a family of artists: her childhood included posing as an object in her well known painter father’s still life paintings, and yet her artistic vocabulary did not develop until she left Germany after high school and came to California. She studies at Pomona College (BFA 1990) and at Montana University (MFA 1995) and now lives and paints and teaches in Los Angeles. And perhaps hidden in these transitions from ordered Germany to the chaos of Los Angeles are the sticky gels of experience that find transient exploration of that space and time warp that Wiesenfeld confronts as she approaches her canvases. ‘Humans are in essence, creatures of reflection. We not only feel, but also analyze how we feel. This moment of reckoning where we confront ourselves, the passage of time, and the past that cannot be undone – is what drives me to paint.’

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