Critics’ Picks

Sophie Reinhold, untitled, 2017, graphite on canvas, 6 1/2 x 10'. Installation view.

Vienna

Sophie Reinhold

Sophie Tappeiner
An der Hülben 3
December 1 - January 13

Surpassing her previous exhibitions’ somber-toned geometricism, “Exchange of Vacuums” marks Berliner Sophie Reinhold’s progress, with an expanded painterly vocabulary of reenergized brushstrokes and grimier color combinations that neither sacrifice nor restate her earlier works’ stately tenor. The best works here, including two untitled pieces from 2016 and 2017, are explorations of the space between murky figuration and dramatic abstraction, primordial in subject but radically modern in form. In the 2016 piece, horizontal strips of white tape produce a square space barely discernible through a fog of haphazardly slathered white paint that occasionally reveals naked canvas. Carefully curved like an old CinemaScope screen, the 2017 work is a graphite expanse taking up most of the central wall of the gallery, unmissable even through the steel and deep-red PVC curtain, Basic Care, 2017, draped over the gallery’s entrance, a nod to Viennese café facades. The light from above the curtain and the window opposite exposes the plane’s otherwise unnoticeable blemishes and the deformed, silvery reflections of moving viewers.

Smaller entries such as Vanilla Cactus, an oil on canvas inspired by the fifth-century BCE Tomb of the Diver, and Old Fear, both 2017, the latter of which shows a panicked rabbit as seen from a predator’s perspective, share her past efforts’ imposing atmosphere without scaling their sublime heights, while the mute bone surface of Have You Ever Been Mellow? and the polished-marble effect of Leda and the Swan, both 2017, are transitional, their figures obscure but discernable. Like Leda and the Swan and Old Fear, Exchange of Vacuums, 2017, abandons traditional canvas supports and is painted on a pregnant bump of canvas, like a blossoming ancient unity symbol.