CANCELLED THE BIRDS AND KEPT THE WAVES
December 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023
HELDENREIZER Contemporary is pleased to present Cancelled the birds and kept the waves, an exhibition of new works by Andreana Dobreva. Along a large-scale oil painting, the artist presents for the first time a series of works on aluminium. This presentation marks the artist’s third solo show at HELDENREIZER Contemporary since joining the gallery for its inaugural group exhibition in 2018.
London-based artist Andreana Dobreva has gained international acclaim for her eruptive paintings, in which she interweaves various painting genres and art historical styles - f into a mysterious web of, at times, political, religious, and psychological charged references. Her art boldly explores materiality and process as carriers of meaning, with lava-like and rotating forms that evoke dynamism and energy, alternating between representation and abstraction.
In her art, Dobreva astutely explores the highly toxic liaison of identity and ideology that is so conspicuously present in our time, questioning the aesthetic repertoire of gestures, symbols, and physical or gender ideals inherent in it and handed down in art historical subjects. Physicality, the color of flesh and skin, and the highly visceral effect of her gestures are characteristic of her paintings, in which bodies almost invariably writhe in struggle, rebel in lust and ecstasy, or fall into lethargy in submission to the pictorial event. Her meticulously choreographed compositions and the extreme painterly effect created by the pasty application of paint and fluid brushstrokes evoke the sensuality of Italian Baroque as well as the metaphysically charged gestures of New York School Abstract Expressionism.
In the monumental diptych See, I could call the beloved. But she would not come alone (2023), the artist combines archetypal motifs from the art historical canon with everyday motifs from popular and consumer culture in a seemingly biblical setting. The focus is on the sexualized female body, around which all the "stories and myths" of power, misogyny, environmental destruction, and refugee misery seem to be organized. An intangible omnipresence of the uncontrollable determines the visual events - dominated and connected only by the energetic materiality of color. The focus is not on the iconographically suggested subjects, the supposed stories and myths depicted, but on the constant transformation as an essential feature of our and all human existence. Dobreva expresses this in her fleshy, transcending, all-encompassing formal language, as she herself explains, "[...] the figurative becomes distorted and dissolves. Everything in my paintings exists in this space of constant transformation."
The myth of Venus and Adonis, characterized in particular by gender-specific affects, is manifested in Dobreva's painting And so I hold back, and swallow down the yearning (2023). A scene with two naked figures is seen in a fertile cocoon of ripe fruit and abundant cascades of color. A strong, athletically built figure is about to emerge from the cocoon, while a delicate, frail-looking, feminine figure on her back is about to be snatched away. The inevitability of Adonis' fate, as described in the myth, seems omnipresent and is also reflected in the sky of the scene: the darkness of the night is displaced by the rays of the morning sun, while the circling birds make the events seem to take place under bad auspices. In this work, Dobreva subtly explores the power dynamics involved in traditional readings of art historical themes and their associated hierarchies, in particular by questioning the normative notions of femininity, masculinity, and gender that are firmly anchored in the aesthetic language of color and form. What seems so apparent at first glance remains ambiguous upon closer inspection. Neither the head nor the face, which could provide a first indication of gender, nor primary or secondary sexual characteristics are recognizable in the depicted figures.
Andreana Dobreva (*1982 Siven, Bulgaria) first studied icon painting at the Art Gymnasium in Siven. From 2008, she studied psychology and education at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Afterward, she studied painting and graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Anke Doberauer and Florian Pumhösl, where she developed her characteristic formal language. She completed her studies in 2019 with a diploma. Her work has been exhibited throughout Europe and North America, as well as at international art fairs, including FRIEZE MASTERS London, TEFAF Maastricht, Paris Print Fair Paris, and IFPDA New York.
December 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023
Türkenstr. 32, 80335 Munich