L A U R E N T A J I N A
March 19–April 23, 2022
Opening March 18, 2022, 6–9 pm
We are pleased to announce the exhibition Palermo Paintings by the French artist Laurent Ajina in our Berlin gallery. On display are over 30 new oil paintings, whose unique arrangement transforms the exhibition space into an overall compositional ensemble.
Lauren Ajina is known for his intricate, abstract wall and ceiling drawings. With thin, interwoven lines, he connects doors, windows, columns, and wall projections, using them as three-dimensional drawing and painting backgrounds that give the found spaces a new, idiosyncratic meaning. For his exhibition Palermo Paintings, he now takes the exact opposite approach: he recreates the hallways, corridors, and salons of an Italian palazzo as abstract meshes of lines, captures them on large-, medium-, and small-format canvases, and arranges them in the gallery spaces according to the actual structural conditions of the original source building.
The starting and crystallization point of the project was Ajina’s stay in Palermo at the end of last year: due to a nationwide lockdown and a quarantine lasting several weeks, he was the only resident at the residency, detained in the huge, historic Palazzo Viola. Left to his own devices and without any way to leave the building, he began to explore the sprawling space and capture it in abstract, linear sketches. Back in his adopted home of Vienna, he transferred them to canvases of various formats using oil paint and permanent marker. In the exhibition spaces of the gallery, he now groups them exactly according to the floor plan of the palazzo: in the first room, the monumental atrium and the dissolute chambers; in the second room, the bright, colorful courtyard garden; in the third room, the small-scale, picturesque functional and utility spaces.
By transforming the architecture of the Palazzo Viola together with its emotional, aesthetic effect first into abstract-coded paintings and then into the white cube of a gallery, Ajina raises the question of the dissolution of site-specificity and the anchoring of architectural structures in our mobile, digital world characterized by cell phone photos and social media. This is an aspect that the Italian art historian Valentina Bruschi also takes up in an essay she wrote on the occasion of the exhibition Palermo Paintings: “It is as if Ajina, in his abstract meshes of lines, had internalized the centuries-old cultural and architectural layers of Palermo that succeeded each other here: Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, French, Spaniards—all in an urbanized superimposition and simultaneity comparable to what we encounter today when we look at the display of our smartphones in virtual space.”