Critics’ Picks

Interior I, 2003.


Paul Winstanley

Galerie Vera Munro
Heilwigstrasse 64
January 29–March 31

Paul Winstanley, born in the UK in 1954, works primarily in two classical genres, the interior and the landscape. In his often very large, realistically rendered photo-based oils, he plays subtle games with handed-down motifs while translating photographic vision back into the “slow medium” of painting. His depictions of anonymous contemporary spaces—empty waiting rooms and lecture halls, never-ending pavilions, elegant lobbies, hospital corridors gleaming under fluorescent lights—reiterate venerable conventions: The barren melancholy of his rooms, rarely occupied by human figures, recalls Flemish painting, Vilhelm Hammershoi, and Edward Hopper, while his landscapes evoke Caspar David Friedrich. But such references are seldom directly alluded to, remaining atmospheric and diffuse. Windows—often partially obscured by translucent curtains—become important motifs, points of contact where interior and exterior bleed into one another. The insistent presence of these frames-within-frames reiterates the Renaissance notion of the painting as window and heightens the sense that the pictures themselves are points of interpenetration between reality and a peculiar imaginary world.