Looking at Theresa Volpp’s abstract paintings, it seems as though we exist in a world without objects. Nothing to remind us of familiar things or shapes, to interrupt our vision and hold it in place, somewhere comforting and secure. Her paintings are all bold and defiant, asking the viewer to accept the necessity to enter a visual field without the certainty of finding markers linked to reality. But certainty seems to be a thing of the past anyway. So, it is only conclusive that Volpp omits it - maybe not intentionally, but consciously - in her images.

Instead, the eye meets forms and colors of different proportions and saturation. An invigorating jungle of zigzags and fluorescent pinks, oranges and greens, that seems fresh and unseen before. The titles, such as ‘Habibi’ or ‘Kimberly’, are also not helpful in detecting something faintly figurative. They mostly refer to feelings or personal names. Both, abstract entities themselves. So, this bears the questions: if one does no longer paint after reality, what is the purpose of painting then? Is it still abstraction, if it doesn’t ‘abstract’ from something within our visual realm? It is this willingness to take risks - like getting lost in a discussion about l’art pour l’art - in order to find answers to these questions, that is one of the many qualities of Volpp’s works. She chooses to let her paintings speak for themselves - and they do.

Coming from a training as a painter under Anselm Reyle and Katharina Grosse, Volpp has freed her abstract visual language from the canvas quite early on in her career. For the artist, painting was never bound to a certain surface or any rectangular structure for that matter. Like color it can be found anywhere one is willing to look for it. And so Volpp experiments with different surfaces, methods and tools to show how far abstraction is able to go. (Is an abstract painting on a handmade carpet an artwork or is it interior design?) Volpp’s work refuses to rest within the confines of traditional painting and the interpretive parameters defining what it ought or ought not to be.

Seeking inspiration everywhere, from architecture and urban structures, to vernacular objects found in natural and man-made surroundings, to elements of street culture such as fashion, graffiti and fast cars, Theresa Volpp draws from a seemingly endless source of colorful and vibrant references to make visual statements about the potential function of painting in today’s visual culture and its aesthetic value to address the world. So instead of claiming a higher social or political motivation for the medium, Volpp demonstrates painting’s power to exist in different states of temporality and varying contexts, and still be irrefutably urgent in this very moment.


Text by Annika Turkowski


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