Vivian Greven’s works take their cue from representations of the ideal human form: As source material, she takes virtual reproductions of sculptures from Classicism, Baroque, and the Renaissance that reinstate concepts of beauty prevalent in classical antiquity. The figures she finds inhabit the canvas with glowing luminosity, coupling ancient Greek ideas with contemporary digital aesthetics. Oscillating between different visual vocabulary, Vivian Greven’s paintings allure with an evocative, at times, even unsettling aura.
For her solo exhibition at the Heidelberger Kunstverein, Greven chose primarily small–scale works, some of which have never been presented before. The selection investigates the stigmatization, objectification, and wounding of the body.
Her body images begin in the digital. The details she chooses to depict and transform into another dimension are fragments. What might have been a full-figure neo-classical sculptural group gets reduced to the head, nude torso, or just the neck on the canvas. Several layers of acrylic paint build an ostensible perfect surface, its sleekness being at once implicative of translucent marble and fluorescent screen reflections or image editing and animation software. Yet, the smoothness of the figures depicted in soft colour gradients is disrupted. The bodies and their intimate gestures are marked. Points, crosses, and other motifs rise above the plane like a relief. A single blankspace dominates the composition having a similarly unsettling effect. They invoke and intensify one’s gaze, the pleasure in looking as well as the desire for touch. Simultaneously, they irritate and distract. A peculiar entanglement of (erotic) attraction and aversion, proximity, and distance, characterizes the works. The titles of Greven’s paintings allude to names, are onomatopoeias, abbreviations, or codes, and put visual and linguistic marking into relation.
The title of the exhibition ›Nabel (Navel)‹ describes a centre, a point of intersection. Since Vitruvius’ idealized measurements of the human body, the navel also stands for the mathematical comprehensibility of harmony and beauty. At the same time, it is a birthmark – the first scar of our life. It thus attests to human vulnerability and simultaneously functions as a measure of proportion for complaisance. Greven is interested in (wound) marks and stigmata concerning the appearance and reception of bodies. Her works show how we allow ourselves to be guided in our perception by certain signs whilst turning bodies into targets.
Vivian Greven (*1985 in Bonn, lives in Düsseldorf) studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and graduated in 2015. Currently, she is a professor at the State Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe. She received the STRABAG Artaward International 2016 and the Marianne-Defet-Malerei-Stipendium 2020. Numerous exhibitions at national and international level.