Galleri Flach has the great pleasure to present Signs of a Savage, a new exhibition by Monika Marklinger. The exhibition is based on Paul Gauguin’s depictions of Tahiti, a place Marklinger herself visited and explored by means of Gauguin’s travel journal Noa Noa. The viewer encounters a rich variety of smaller photographs and a number of paintings where images and text are interwoven in a dialogue with Gauguin’s imagery and anthropological observations. The material forms a complex visual contemplation on the relationship between image, reality and cultural self-understanding.
In many of her previous installations, Monika Marklinger has thoroughly examined the multitude of letters, words and images and how they are mixed together in urban environments. Local expressions and advertisements from multinational companies are blended together in a multifaceted visual tapestry of different layers. Images and text are often confronted in large-scale paintings in a rich contrast of colours and shapes. In Signs of a Savage the juxtaposition of images and text is also a major theme. Every painting in the exhibition departs from a quotation in Gauguin’s own writings, a method of working which is similar to Gauguin’s own. To clarify the cultural context Gauguin often wrote titles directly on his Tahiti paintings, as a form of references.
In Signs of a Savage Marklinger depicts her impressions from Tahiti by combining painting and photography, fiction and documentation. She is particularly interested in the reception of Gauguin’s paintings and how they have influenced the Polynesian self-image and been embraced by the tourism industry. Major issues in the exhibition focus on cultural identity and how images and reality meet and are confounded. One of Gauguin’s most famous and enigmatic paintings is entitled Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? [D’où venons nous? Que sommes nous? Où allons nous?]. The title also occurs in one of the paintings in the exhibition and is consistent with Monika Marklinger’s own inquiries, manifested through a number of multi layered and magnificent paintings, filled with details and surprising contrasts.
Monika Marklinger graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm in 2002 and has since then exhibited in a variety of contexts, both in Sweden and internationally. She has often participated in exhibitions of contemporary painting, including Lies About Painting, Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden 2013, Painting Beyond Paint, Kerstin Engholm Gallery in Vienna (curated by John Peter Nilsson). The exhibition was part of the broader exhibition Why Painting Now? which opened in Vienna in autumn, 2013.
Monika Marklinger works with painterly issues from a social and political perspective. Since 2007 she has been in collaboration with the artist Johan Waerndt and produced a series of semi-documentary video installations focusing on democracy and public spaces. In 2012 Moderna Museet in Stockholm acquired their joint work The Politics of Color which deals with the introduction of color television during the Cold War.