Anita Beckers

Cornelia Renz

24 Nov 2007 - 02 Feb 2008


Anyone who appreciates the allegorical layers of a fairy tales will certainly be fascinated by the image worlds captured with acrylic paint on glass by the artist Cornelia Renz. One initially has the impression of facing the creation of a colourful world of fairy tales or comics, but when taking a closer look, the details and figures give rise to ambiguous stories in which nothing is really the way it appears.

The friendly Teletubbie – no child’s room can be pictured without it – suddenly rides with reins on the back of those same children it was meant to make happy with its tales, and in this way comes quite close to what reality is actually like. The depictions of girls, who with provocative clothes or sexual acts rid themselves of their naive innocence, are also not in line with our picture of these same little girls in pink dresses. What is good and what is bad? Where does the one start and the other end in the small ideal world, once the mask has been lifted?

The masquerade itself, which has always been used as a carnivalesque means to temporarily do away with social or moral stigmata by exaggerating them, is a recurring motif in Cornelia Renz’ pictures. Goya, from whose series of etchings, “Los Disparates”, both the exhibition title “Miscellaneous” and the motifs of recent works such as “Heaven“, “Heavenly Creatures“ or “Stupid“ are derived, also uses the ambiguity of the masquerade to capture his conception of the world on paper. Here, in dismal pictorial stagings, humanity is overwhelmed by its sins and the spirits of the underworld it has conjured up on its own accord; reason loses control, and grotesqueness and the life hereafter make their entrance. This loss of control, comparable with immersing in the unconscious in dreams, is also reflected in Cornelia Renz’ pictures. As if raised from reality into the heavens, her figures are no longer held to the ground; all previously valid rules appear to be abolished.

In “Heaven”, a work combining elements drawn from older and newer motifs, the skeleton of a nurse symbolizes this moment of losing control: No longer able to accomplish her mission of female caring for and healing the ill, she, in an act of helplessness, attempts to pull a thorn out of the bone and, in doing so, not only loses control of herself but also of the black stallion dangerously rearing up against her. This motif is also derived from an etching of Goya’s “Los Disparates”; but while, with Goya, it is a woman who is to be abducted on the back of a black stallion, Renz’ version replaces her with a figure clownishly disguised in a wedding dress and top hat, whose sexual identity remains concealed behind the masquerade. The stallion bursting with masculinity is shown in an attempt to grasps at least one of the two phalluses between the clown’s legs, to at least here re-establish the gender order.

Cornelia Renz’ works show us disturbing yet humorous views of this chaotic world beyond all rules and regulations. They are reminiscent of fantastic dream worlds in which everything seems possible and all definitive interpretations are annulled in the moment of viewing.

Tags: Cornelia Renz