Museum Brandhorst

Amy Sillman

American artist Amy Sillman (b. 1955 in Detroit, MI, lives in New York) creates paintings that engage with the topic of the body and corporality. In her work, isolated elements such as hands, heads, and arms are freely integrated into the paintings' predominantly abstract compositions. With their cartoon-like contour drawing, the paintings contain more fragments than definite representations of parts of the body, sketched onto the surface with a confident hand and an eye for careful placement.
In 'Fatso', an unhappy, grim-looking figure looms in the centre of the painting; resting atop a bulky, shapeless body we see a head with only one eye and a mouth pulled into a deep frown. We cannot discern where the figure is looking, or what led to its gloomy sentiment - vague suggestions of forms emerge from roughly painted, monochromatic surfaces. Could the painting be an expression of the figure's uneasiness with its own body?
The painting 'Nose Job' is similarly puzzling: The composition is dominated by a hand with an index finger extending into a roughly defined green space. What exactly it is pursuing, or pointing out, remains unclear. But the title suggests the notion of physical self-enhancement. In this tension between embarrassment and an ideal form, the recognition of one's own body and its simultaneous elusiveness, Sillman's painting oscillates between the humorous and the cryptic. In their staged confrontation between abstract and figurative pictorial elements, which upon closer inspection cannot be clearly separated, Sillman's images generally hover somewhere in between legibility and disappearance, suggestion and concealment. They reflect the process of painting as a search, an attempt to recognise and understand: 'Making paintings for me is liminal: not quite known, coming into being, not yet seen, being remembered.' Each of the large-scale images confronts the viewer as a physical counterpart, almost as independent bodies - much in the way that Sillman herself understands painting: 'For the artist, painting is not limited to perception via the retina, it is a total body experience.' In her painting Sillman draws from 1950s artists such as Willem de Kooning and Maria Lassnig, who use the physicality of abstract gestural painting for figurative representation. Her work lends pictorial representation to our modern physical disposition, updating this historical vocabulary in order to articulate visually the present, unclear moment of our body-images, perceptions, and experiences.
Sillman's paintings will be displayed for the first time at the Museum Brandhorst as part of the exhibition 'Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age'.

Amy Sillman | Fatso, 2009 Oil on canvas
		231.1 x 213.4 cm © Amy Sillman
Amy Sillman | Nose Job, 2014/2015 Oil on canvas
		190.5 x 167.6 cm © Amy Sillman

Amy Sillman | Fatso, 2009

Amy Sillman | Nose Job, 2014/2015

Oil on canvas
231.1 x 213.4 cm
© Amy Sillman
Oil on canvas
190.5 x 167.6 cm
© Amy Sillman