Das kann das Leben kosten
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Das kann das Leben kosten

In oil and marble powder on canvas, Reinhold conveys consciousness, maintains awareness. Often working with shaped canvas cut and hand-stitched into distinct sections, her material is primary. The experience of the surface is immediate, seductive, creates an effect. In a muted sheen, Reinhold plays with the recognizable as a shroud for secrets. Painting in layers on stencilled, colored canvas, she shows how the easily resolved lets something lurk underneath. How one thing can be read through another.

It’s like the narrator in Rachel Cusk’s trilogy, whose listening filters the monologues of those she meets as their banal personal experiences dip into the profound. Silence speaks by revealing. Like Cusk, Reinhold’s stance is of apparent neutrality, as if to say, you be the judge. Agnes Varda’s mixing of documentary and fictional elements is also resonant with Reinhold’s approach. Their concern with social contracts strikes a common tone. In distinct mediums, their formal constraint elevates texture, creates meaning by counterposing.

So what are these undercurrents, the secrets conceded to a longer look? There are traces of her upbringing in East Berlin before the wall came down, as she repurposes slogans from GDR propaganda – Gewöhne dich nicht daran (Don’t get used to it) and Das kann das Leben kosten (That could cost you your life.) There is a subtle stance on late capitalism and its cast of characters, tempered by a playfulness. A rider is losing control over a galloping sausage on horse legs in Mann mit Wurst. An eggman appears on a modernist stripe painting looking weary and skeptical in R U concerned (Eiermann). Reinhold’s formalism is deliberately wrought, her controlled colors suffuse the works with lightness.

Reinhold is drawn to Greek mythology for its mood, for the way it flirts with morality. Her interest in Circe is apparent; the animals that populate her paintings stand like archetypes transformed by the sorceress. Something mystic seeps through simple forms, eyes looking at you and knowingly through you at a time in various paintings.

Evolving from classical fresco techniques and experimentation with Carrara marble, Reinhold’s method demands we return to the primacy of the surface. Think cave painting. And allegory. Her material delight is evident, as donning these surfaces allows her to let more of herself and her take on things in.

Sophie Reinhold lives and works in Berlin.

Das kann das Leben kosten

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