Vanessa Disler created the paintings on view at Art Düsseldorf for her exhibition Shadow Work at Wiels, Brussels (2018). The paintings were inspired by a series of lithographs executed at night in New York, by the late Swiss painter Martin Disler (1949 -1996). Interested in overlapping territories of painterly and familial inheritance, Disler continues the unfinished business of the deceased artist by stalking his language and making it strange, through text based paintings, and the painterly language that the two artists share.
A common feature of English Gothic literature, are ancestral curses and secrets, uncanny doubling, and lost manuscripts. Disler humorously employs these themes within her work as a strategy to explore the murky territory of familial and cultural inheritance. Through this process, she illuminates the fraught relationship between master narratives, and the more haunting details of life, which are forgotten, erased and repressed.
Forgotten Ritual (2018) carries on a series of paintings, based on prints made by Martin Disler, containing the phrase “Disler Vergessene Rituale V”. The appropriated text is inverted and written backwards in a fragmented way, creating a mirrored pictorial structure. While some areas of the picture plane are obfuscated, other sections are left open. In this way, the paintings become gateways to the pictorial space beyond. In The Uncanny Double (2018) the icon of the Swiss cross mimics the colour of the the first shade of Yves Saint Laurent rouge lipstick. The cross hovers electric red upon oxidised metal shavings, which float upon the canvas like an apparition from beyond. By using humor and cliché feminine motifs, Disler’s paintings converse with the corpus that Martin Disler produced in New York. Her work transmutes his nocturnal and libidinal energies, into a new light.