Moving freely between figuration and abstraction, Andro Wekua creates multilayered paintings composed of fragments of recollections and figments of the imagination that display various formal layers. Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Wekua’s latest body of work. Containing traces of the artist’s hand continuously applying and removing richly pigmented colors, his paintings present as palimpsests that conjure images and associations but defy straightforward interpretation.
The Georgian artist’s works refuse to be tethered to the weight of specifics. Rather, through his deft use of color and mark-making, they represent and become liminal spaces. Exemplifying this trait, House / Gate (2023) is a vibrant green canvas that beckons the viewer into its picture plane, where dark lines organize into an architectural structure, the walls of which emit bursts of bright orange. His charcoal marks make mere suggestions: black winding lines could be a path leading to an open gate, or they could form branches of a tree partially obscuring the view. Another of Wekua’s lush abstractions, There (2013/2023), hints at a row of blue and pink buildings hidden beneath a layer of streaky white paint. This color pairing is ubiquitous across Wekua’s work and can be found in another painting on show, That Place (2023), where fields of dark blue alternate with areas of icy blue that are broken up by pink shapes and a luminous orange opening to the right. Recalling Wekua’s seaside hometown of Sukhumi, devastated by civil war, these works are perhaps the product of a fading memory – that of the city itself or the artist growing up there. Together they meditate on the unbridgeable distance between history, fact and fiction.
Evoking an equally phantom presence, Wekua’s enigmatic figures are immersed in themselves, their obscured faces floating or gazing into the void. In the moody That Portrait (2023), a figure with angular shoulders is set against a dark background. The folds of expressive blue brushstrokes wrap the figure’s head in a shawl, framing the ghostly face with its downcast eyes. Face Looking (2022) is another rendering of a similar figure against a glossy black background that leaves what the dark eyes see unknowable. Subtle in their visual language, these figures have a haunting aura and echo the introspective and impermeable quality all the images on show possess. As always, Wekua makes the process of painting itself and its material his subject.