Veronika Hilger: Nacht
“Nacht” (night) is Veronika Hilger's second solo show at Sperling, with an exhibition centring on new paintings and ceramic sculptures of landscapes and still lifes. She stays true to her subject matter, whilst narrowing it down thematically and integrating an extension of genres and subjects. Recently, the artist titled one of her exhibitions "nobody to greet", but now figures and bodily forms have found their way into the new figurative and concomitantly abstract compositions. These kinds of antagonisms are of great interest to Veronika Hilger and run as a common, formal and contextual, thread throughout her work.
Hilger's current preoccupation with the night and its depictions coherently complies with her interest in dualistic principles. Conceptual pairs such as light/dark, good/bad, safety/danger, or even dream/reality, are common antonyms associated with the night. Within this area of tension, the artist barely makes use of narrative elements, so that the viewer can approach the work on an emotional level, thereby managing to evoke thoughts on existential themes spanning mortality, intimacy or diffusion, kindled by this nighttime atmosphere. The conceptually charged subject and its romantic-melancholic tainted sceneries, mystic light situations and dramatic shadows, are inherently and automatically also linked to the idyllic, to kitsch and to pathos. She skillfully renders all too sublime thoughts inane, by the obvious depiction of a mere subject, as well as through irony, or absence, of an appropriate narrative. Veronika Hilger's fascination with nighttime for this series of works is also clearly rooted in art history. The night and its painterly depiction can be applied as a counter-image to our current reality, because, that what was once painted as the night, actually no longer exists. Nighttime is now no more than a counterpart to daytime. Everything is available 24/7, the majority of the Western world live in permanent illuminance; Netflix always has one more episode available and at least one of your Facebook friends is always awake, so that communication and consumerism is possible at all times. Nighttime is no longer its own realm of experience, which makes it all the more difficult to locate and interpret Hilger's nighttime depictions. The works appear to be gates to some other, foreign and fascinating, as well as threatening land. The interplay compliments this viewing of nature as something self-grown – the absence of human intervention – and is thus not fully conquerable, or rather controllable. Nature as the antithesis to artificial production. Veronika Hilger, however, does not choose one or the other – she combines the two, following her common thread, and creates works, which go beyond the laws of nature and are not easily explicable by common sense – works that are therefore, by definition, supernatural.