Critics’ Picks

Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Life fears, 2019, oil on canvas, 11 3/4 x 11 3/4".

Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Life fears, 2019, oil on canvas, 11 3/4 x 11 3/4".


Frieda Toranzo Jaeger

14-16 Brewer Street First Floor
September 7–October 26, 2019

Fragmented women sink into their setting as angelic heads, floating torsos, and disembodied groins melt into the gilded entrails of a sports car; two ladies kiss as they time-warp through Mars-black ether. Titled virgin machines and The window seat (all works 2019), respectively, these pieces are two of five paintings by the Berlin-based artist Frieda Toranzo Jaeger on view here, each of which employs a visual metaphor for the mechanization of female bodies under capitalism. “Fantasies of Autonomy” also extends Toranzo Jaeger’s exploration of automobiles as flagrant displays of wealth: In Life fears, a fluffy, ivory lapdog slides cartoonishly down a crimson leather passenger seat toward a smoldering furnace. Luxurious vehicular tragedy rings throughout the gallery.

Through graceful compositional lifting, Toranzo Jaeger subtly flays racial and gendered art-historical hierarchies. The woman at the center of waiting for fully Automated Luxury communism rhymes with the female subject of Symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes’s La toilette, 1883. Rendered by Toranzo Jaeger with comparable ambrosial sentimentality, Chavannes’s figure returns from the grave darker and seemingly infected with metal. The composition of virgin machines recalls Gustav Klimt with its layering and fracturing of the female form, yet its variegated corporeality throbs with a queer sensuality absent from the Austrian master’s oeuvre. Elsewhere, in a nod to Mexican muralism, an engine rendered in oil paint and embroidery dribbles over the edges of a canvas to occupy an entire wall. Rather than smacking the viewer in the face, Toranzo Jaeger’s political commentary creeps up from behind and taps her lightly on the shoulder.