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In the polarity of defiance and expectations-Frida Wannerberger

In the polarity of defiance and expectations-Frida Wannerberger
Irene Pouliassi

Irene Pouliassi

Date
Dec 29, 2023
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I have collaborated with Frida a couple of times, both exhibiting her work in shows I have curated throughout our close working relationship with a highlight being when ARTCOLLECTORNEWS masterfully curated her work at Softcore Hardcore Exhibition at D Contemporary this past October-  She is amazing .

I also want to meet The Frida depicted in the paintings. That bold outspoken Valkyrie.

In her solo exhibition, 'Into the Sunset with You,' curated by Wang Shiying at Tang Contemporary, Wannerberger challenges and dismantles the prescribed norms and expectations associated with self-presentation.

Stepping into the room feels like entering a realm of repeated parrhesiast figures, each one imposing in its unique way. They stand tall, dressed in stylized garments that evoke the essence of bygone eras, creating a visual tapestry that seamlessly blends the contemporary with a hint of nostalgia. The backgrounds surrounding them burst forth with vibrancy and dynamics, almost as if echoing the lively spirit of the figures themselves. Yet, amidst this vibrant scene, all eyes in the room converge upon you—the viewer.

In a first reading I have the feeling they are self-portraits-Through vivid palettes these repetitive autoportraits, meticulously capture a poignant tribute to the constrained legacy of women not too distantly removed from a time when their sartorial choices were confined to the graceful drapes of dresses and skirts. She adeptly weaves the threads of historical femininity, employing the stylized garments reminiscent of bygone eras as a profound homage to the collective narrative of history. The towering shoulders and billowing skirts, the sumptuous collars and elevated waistlines, takes us back to an era where petticoats and hoop skirts were the architectural armature beneath, sculpting a silhouette that exuded both grandeur and grace. 

But again my eyes go up to the face. 

The silhouette really pops out from those trippy-voidal backgrounds. Is it like a weird trip, where my conscience shows up to either call me out on my mistakes or give me a pat on the back for becoming the woman I am?

And that is where I grab the artwork list and the show completely changes.

‘There is a wound in my heart for each of one and everyone of you’, ‘Oh i was a lonely girl’, ‘ In my dreams you reply’, ‘ I smile if i want to’, ‘The girlfriend wouldn't approve’, ‘100 men, 100 Kittens’, ‘ How many times i've waited for a boy from heaven’

The figures are turning into strong Eudaimonic figures. Each painting transforms into a journal entry, every character assumes the guise of a thought never uttered in public. It delves into the zeitgeist of dating app frustrations. Dresses are redefined as the uniform of an army parading while chanting the anthems of your innermost thoughts. The entire exhibition speaks to the dichotomy between what is presented and what truly exists, exploring the image versus reality. Digging into the generational struggle of navigating the intricacies of love, norms, autonomy, and the multifaceted nature of existence. 

Upon a second reading, those voices encompass all the societal wrongs against womanhood. This isn't solely about female identity but rather the feminine identity itself. It touches on catlike-unladylike feelings that one is compelled to conceal, attempting to conform to the archetypal trinity of Mother-Bitch-Slut.

In conclusion, the interpretation of Frida Wannerberger's works becomes a profound personal choice. Stemming from her private pain material, It's an invitation to embark on a journey through the intricate history and politics of fashion, and its cultural implications. Alternatively, one can choose to engage directly with the narratives woven into the paintings, listening intently to the stories of the depicted women and drawing inspiration from their shared experiences. In making this choice, each viewer becomes an active participant in the ongoing dialogue between art and identity, contributing to the rich tapestry of interpretations that define the essence of these evocative creations.

Frida Wannerberger (b. 1989, Sweden)'s works integrate reflections on the female identity and girlhood in a contemporary context through self-observation. In her portrait pieces, ethereal female figures adorned in elaborate clothing allow viewers to interpret the feminine qualities in her work freely, while also transforming the body into a tool for communicating ideas. The artist's living environment serves as the most influential visual inspiration, and her works focus on symbolism and visual clues, forming emotional biographical stories dominated by identity and institutions.

Frida Wannerberger has held solo exhibitions at the Haricot Gallery in London and the Kuiyuan Art Space in Shanghai. She has also participated in the 2023 Shanghai ART021 Art Fair and group exhibitions such as ‘ Adjacent Colours,’ (D Contemporary) “Softcore/Hardcore” (D Contemporary, London), “Inquiry to the Wall” (Tang Contemporary Art x Soul Art Center, Beijing), and “Look Mum No Hands” (9 French Place, London). Wannerberger's works have been collected by the Soho House in Stockholm.

Frida Wannerberger: Into the Sunset with You

2023.12.5 - 2024.1.2

Curator: Wang Shiying

Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing Headquarters Gallery Space