At the AAA Design + Projects Space at Mario Mauroner in Vienna, Christina Zurfluh seduces us before we even enter the gallery. Through a screen projecting for passers-by, we watch the artist, armed with a chisel and sandpaper, meticulously gutting a canvas soaked in blue paint, hammering the painting in an act of transformation that takes place within the walls of her studio.
The clash between the artist and the raw material is reconciled in the thick layers of her work, through the physical struggle and the resistances of the fabrics, into images consciously reworked in the tears, flaps and strips of paint. The numerous layers of dry paint, superimposed and amalgamated, combine in a hybrid that incorporates painting, sculpture and collage in a unique structure.
“Making the Blue”, is a video filmed during lockdown, introducing us to Blue Monochrome, one of the eight sculptures exhibited at MAM. These works are all monochromatic compositions, made of acrylic and quick-drying dyes reacting to the contact materials, distributing the color in discrepancies, reflections and veins that you could analyse for hours.
“Through the light”, Judith Radlegger, Gallery Director at MAM explains, while she leads me around the AAA, “the sculpture absorbs the surrounding space and our presence in a new figurative meaning”. And I can actually see a range of green in the black of Black in Black, a richness of pink in Yellow in Yellow. It’s a pure absorption process where three-dimensionality is turned into surrealism: the artworks drip paint, revealing the aims of the artist in the details – they freeze time, gravity and space into a symbolic solidification of the sculptures’ edges.
“Christina’s abstraction almost seems to retrace the bizarre times we are living” – admits Judith, telling me how the project space, normally dedicated to the encounter between design, architecture and art, has in this case added value to the exhibition. “Because of the pandemic, people have been resistant to join exhibitions, they want to see art but they don’t want to interact. The second lockdown forced us to close the gallery until the end of February. But during these months, we began to notice how many people stopped on the street to observe the video projected from the windows, giving themselves a purely aesthetic pleasure and contemplation that we all certainly need”.
The design of the flaming red armchair The Big Easy, a chair work from London designer Ron Arad, enriches the exhibition space, inviting the observer to step in: becoming an active participant in a future post Covid where the gallery turns into our living room, cradling the visitor in a almost spiritual dimension. And it is not surprising how one can be glued for hours to the shop windows: in GREEN IN GREEN, the very concept of contemplative peace seems to be preserved in the chromatic range, into a finite totality that appears as the result of a coincidence left to chance.
But Christina is far from not knowing what she is doing, she’s aware of the materials and well capable of keeping you fixed to her paintings until it gets dark, even with a video projected 24 hours a day, even when there is a curfew outside.
This article has been published on the art magazine Segnonline