Studio Visit with Beth Namenwirth
Through captivating small-scale works, Dutch painter Beth Namenwirth cherishes the traditional painterly process while commenting on everyday moments. Constructing compelling compositions using familiar imagery, she crafts a coherent body of work in which there is no border between fantasy and reality, imagination and realism. Intrigued by these captivating images, we visited her studio in Haarlem and were welcomed by a large body of work of mostly small scale paintings. Twenty-five years since her solo debut in Amsterdam, Namenwirth is active as always, going through her most prolific period by the looks of it.
In the early stage of her career, US-born artist was painting larger-scale works which mixed the female everyday emotions with surreal elements and an often uneasy atmosphere. This setting is regularly broken by the addition of playful, silly objects, such as toys or cartoon characters repeated in sequence. Additionally, the ambiance of the work was often accented by the use of vast negative space created with a loose portrayal of depth and perspective.
As Namenwirth matured through life and routines changed, her practice evolved to smaller-scale works that experiment with negative space and the assemblage of random characters objects, or elements. Cherishing the expressive approach and intentionally working with thick and creamy paint, the new work introduces a fresh depiction of the desired image, filled with creative passion and a sense of humor. Successfully utilizing different qualities of the medium, she creates an effective distance between her subjects and the inconspicuous surroundings. Capturing intricate details while leaving out unimportant elements, Namenwirth assembles harmonious compositions in which she attributes her subjects with quirky characteristics. Whether referring to art history, popular culture or even political and social issues, the themes she works with are always in some way whimsical, awkward, and she is feeling strongly about them. Allowing oils to stay alive and keep their seductive physical quality, these mischievous small works capture an alternative reality informed by the events the artist has experienced throughout everyday life.
Text and photo credit to Sasha Bogojev