Critics’ Picks

Sarah Ksieska, Hard drive, 2021, oil on aluminium, 75 x 49".

Sarah Ksieska, Hard drive, 2021, oil on aluminium, 75 x 49".


Sarah Ksieska

Galerie Fons Welters
Bloemstraat 140
June 17–July 31, 2021

In the suite of nine oil paintings that comprise Sarah Ksieska’s “Phantoms,” pigment appears to levitate on the reflective surface of industrial aluminum, a material more akin to the backlit polished screens of handheld devices than to the rough woven texture of canvas. The resulting images seem almost luminescent, shifting and flickering depending on the light and the position of the viewer. They sooner suggest a brief hallucination than a fixed tableau.

Ksieska focuses on still lifes and quiet interiors, moments of contemplation when the privacy of solitude allows the mind to wander. In Automat (all works 2021), nature finds its way indoors, as a yellow chaise longue curls around what looks like a snail shell under acorn-shaped droplights. Through its title, Hard Drive connects a depiction of cabinetry with digital storage, both physical embodiments of memory. The painting shows the contours of drawers morphing and transforming until they read like something spit out by Google DeepDream. The only human likeness in the exhibition is the dormant figure in Schein. A black-and-white apparition, the character yields to the accentuated materiality of the scratches on the patinated surface.

Ksieska’s images emulate those created through digital painting apps, while her manual interventions on their surfaces in turn remind us of the physicality of our devices. Her paintings are suspended between technologically ensured precision and psychological dreamworlds.