Critics’ Picks

View of “Take My Face,” 2019.

Berlin

Anne Fellner

LISZT
Gustav-Adolf-Strasse 13
July 20–August 31, 2019

Morellian analysis facilitates the process of authenticating artworks by attempting to identify a trail of signature tics characteristic of an artist’s style and can encourage a viewer to read a painting as though it were a crime mystery or a thriller. Anne Fellner’s suite of recent paintings in “Take My Face” plays with this test of artistic literacy, both in their narratively expressive style and in the poem the artist produced for the press release, comprised of pulp-fiction crime-thriller titles, among them Dame in der Dunkelheit (Lady in the Darkness) and Das Übel der Zeit (The Evil of Time). Fellner’s renderings of half-remembered, half-imagined scenes provoke a curiosity about the reliability of the canvases’ meaning and are contained mysteries within themselves.  

In Limited Capacity, 2018, a roughly applied black background disintegrates to give space to a floating translucent arm and a frieze of shells, while the ethereal shine of the lilac satin in Ein Fall für TV now exklusiv (McDreamy), 2019, serves as an atmospheric canvas for a sparse and moody portrait of an anonymous figure. Stylistically untethered, many of the paintings work with shallow, chaotically occupied pictorial space. Another piece on satin, Tromp-l’oeil (Der Englische Garten), 2018, shares this quality of interior discord, its spiraling forms pressing together to allude to and condense an image of depth.

Around the edges of this work, Fellner has drawn an approximate outline of a picture frame without any attempt at realism. Trompe l’oeil, a painting technique used to create the illusion of three-dimensionality or mimic the look of other materials like marble, reflexively acknowledges the illusionary nature of the medium. In Fellner’s paintings, both the illusion and the referent are abstracted, and the clues she offers provide no trail of meaning to follow back.