Wanda's - Nana Wolke @ Nicoletti
The notion of wandering is aptly foregrounded throughout Wanda’s, Nana Wolke’s first solo exhibition with Nicoletti. Large linen surfaces, roughened with sand and artificial colours, jostle frenetic painterly moments alongside spaces of calm serenity - like intermittent distorted static from a broken PA System. Wolke’s paintings have a disquieting liminal aspect, as if each image continues beyond the frame; you can hear the subjects’ continuing conversations, the vehicles pulling away, time drifting. As you walk past each work, you are often turning back to check the staging hasn’t altered, that the curtain hasn’t closed.
We see the lapel of a suit, the underside of a car, a crowded scene alongside a cinematic jewelled hand. There is a feeling of being out of step, or that there is a perceptible order you can’t quite comprehend - a disrupted sense of chronology that engenders the feeling as if you are wandering into these vibrant mise-en-scènes, completing the images with your own physicality and presence. Your gaze provides a sense of order to a fevered dream, fully of imagined people and places. The evocation of placement, movement and continuity is important here. Wolke has orchestrated the inhabitants of these works, through organising a series of ‘happenings’ that formed the basis for a film that is alluded to but never acknowledged.
This careful staging carries over into the curation of the gallery space: a prop from the film is included alongside the credits mounted opposite to a painting, Without even taking off his makeup, 2022. Both the credits and the included prop exemplify a feeling of absence that reverberates through the rest of the exhibition. Within the painting, a yellow shadow is cast across a football stand, an empty space with folded shirts holding the foreground, fading to a darker illustrated silhouette that leads the eye around to the following space (it is compelling that the first painterly work included is notably without a human presence).
The score permeates through the second gallery space, its sound drawing out this feeling of being without, reaching a crescendo when you realise the series of screens faced directly towards the gallery walls are screening the film. This denial of a conclusion, a Beckettian slip of the logical A to B cinematic narrative, feels so slight – the resulting questions left by Wolke provide a logic to reanalyse each work.
Throughout Wanda’s, Wolke seeks to highlight and antagonise the limits of both cinematic and painterly representation; within the surfaces presented you are drawn to the edges of the frame or screen. Certain elements are brought to attention, and others withdrawn. Through the aesthetic of these high contrast, grainy images you can read a further critique of capitalist modes of encounter within our society, and how said society may affect a kind of voyeurism and speed of viewership within us. The works exhibited reflect an expectation to move through spaces and consume or read and take in information at a certain pace, reducing scenery to the products displayed, people to the logos on their clothing.
The narrative intrigue, the fiction and frictions ingrained throughout Wanda’s, is demonstrable of a praxis to pay attention to, Wolke’s aesthetic work suggests an attendant ability to consider the subjective power of her lens.
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