The paintings of Viktorie Langer are in many respects anomalous. Or a more suitable word would be strange, which better conveys the challenge they pose to understanding and a certain distinctive contradictoriness under the surface of the thing. This impression is not caused solely by the artist’s emphasis on intuition and authencity or her experimentation with colours and textiles, through which her painting acquires exceptional qualities. Nor is it her expressiveness (without the bombastic modernism that made artistic gesture an exhibition of the constantly changing identity of the artist) which provokes this disquiet. Langer’s painting actually relates much more to external reality. The core of her work is rooted in the relationship of the figural and the abstract. In this case the category of the abstract, which I am using here in a sense much wider than that which we know from the tradition of non-representational art, must be counted in the service of the figural. That is to say, the figure, as a representation of the human body, in a specific manner remains present even in works which we cannot clearly recognise or identify by sight. It is made present via something in the highest degree abstract: inconspicuous traces, hints or tracks.
The ephemeral charisma, the subtle superficial agency, the aura or certain scent of a definite unidentifiable person, which is infused deep into the fabric of textiles: that is what gives Langer’s work the human attribute that is constantly preserved there, even when we are looking at a work that is at first sight abstract. In previous works these hints of a human body (though it is sometimes absolutely not present) were contained in selected objects of the everyday reality which the artist was using as her painterly medium: sheets, bed covers, mattresses, couches, quilts. All of these objects came from second hand and so they bore within themselves real traces of their original owners. In her current paintings, presented at the Human Aroma exhibition in Zahorian & Van Espen Gallery, the above-mentioned human attribute appears already even in the very format, which the artist has chosen to relate to the size of a person with outstretched arms. But it is also present in the articles and objects which people leave behind them on the ground and with which the artist does further work. At her current solo exhibition Langer’s canvases or objects operate in a strange sphere of intimations, whereby they constantly frustrate any unambiguous interpretation that might comfortably slide along the surface. / Erik Vilím
Viktorie Langer (1988, Žiar nad Hronom) is a graduate of Painting Studio 2 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where she also worked in Florian Pumhösl and Silke Otto-Knapp’s Studio of Guest Teachers. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Against Nature (National Gallery, Prague, 2016, curators Edith Jeřábková and Chris Sharp) and Alone (Sør-Troms Museum, Trastad, Norway, 2016). In 2017 and 2018 she presented her work at several solo exhibitions, among them Hormones Harmony (The Czech Centre Window Gallery London, curator Andrée Cooke) and Caramello (Regional Gallery in Liberec, curator Karina Kottová), she completed an “artist in residence” programme in Rotterdam. She was a finalist for the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize (2017). She lives and works in Prague.