Artist News

Vivian Greven @ Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf


11.05.2019 - 29.06.2019

Vivian Greven’s painting is based on an adept play with various notion of bodies, being and representation, with concepts of classical antiquity merging with pop art and digital image worlds. Vivian Greven’s painting is characteristic of our present times, which are shaped by the internet and social media and thus dissolve the hierarchies between original, reproduction and simulation. The motif of interpersonal contact is pivotal. The art historical and contemporary historical nestling corresponds with Greven’s painterly treatment of surfaces.
Parts of her painting rise as actual reliefs that encounter sprayed or painted fictions of bodies and space. The aesthetic of her pictures vacillates between the vocabulary of physical painting and the ethereal illusion of LCD windows.

Vivian Greven’s current show and series titled 0 V is characterized by the conceptual play between corporeality and transcendent spheres. The central motif is Venus and the history of her depiction in art and significance in society. Venus is considered the goddess of both earthly and heavenly love, known for her beauty and fertility. In art history, however, Venus as an overly stylized human figure is almost always depicted without a genital sex. In this sense, the title of the exhibition, 0 V, is a conceptual word play with the meanings “Zero Venus” but also “Zero Vivian”, and in the end raises the question of what authentic identity is. For this optimization of the human body found throughout art history culminates for the time being in our current digital world of artificial intelligence and body syntheses. On social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, the body is literally “de-secularized” and turned into a variable surface. While the painting Ode still is focused on the representation of personal interaction, the works 0V I, 0V II, 0V III, Aort I and Aort II present the motif of Venus exclusively in fragments, as “close-ups” of certain body parts, so to speak. As opposed to the art-historical tradition, Vivian Greven is not concerned with the eroticism of Venus, but with the sensory “scanning” for what is familiar. In her painting, the alternation between surfaces shifting into each other and illusionist “sculpturality” involves the viewer in a search for authentic
identity. In our mind’s eye, the entire repertoire of cultural knowledge of the depiction of bodies and the attendant social notions of ideals inevitably unfolds. And at the same time, Vivian Greven’s paintings catapult us into the here and now. The motif of the martini glass continues this on a different level. Although they are figurative, the glasses appear as abstract counterparts of the depiction of Venus. Like “burning glasses”, they focus the gaze on the reality of what lies “behind”. Yet nothing physically tangible can be recognized. This proverbial “emptiness” forms the option of numerous new possibilities of (self-)definitions.