Sophie Reinhold

Sophie Reinhold, Ikarus will survive (detail), 2023, Photo: Gerhard Kassner, Copyright: The Artist, Courtesy: The Artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin/Stockholm/Mexico City

Sophie Reinhold thematises questions around dreams and lies, simulation and real life in her first solo exhibition with Galerie Nordenhake in Berlin. The exhibition juxtaposes a site-specific installation with new paintings made specifically for the show, executed on surfaces prepared with bitumen, ground marble and graphite powder. The installation comprises four identical sculptures made from 16 aluminium pipes arranged in a hollow circle, which traverse the ceiling height and disrupt the line of sight. Resuming the architecture, they constrain or widen the perspective of the paintings dependent on the room. As the viewer climbs the once opulently decorated staircase to the gallery, they encounter the first sculpture, placed in front of the gallery. The clash between the sculpture as a symbol of architectural representation of power and its yet seemingly out of place industrial aesthetic, anticipates the interpretation of the paintings within the gallery space. 

The artist’s imagery often speaks to classical iconography and mythology, which is underlined by the sculptural quality of the paintings that breaks with a satirical depiction of ubiquitous images. This break allows the viewer to become aware of the technical process in which the artist stretches jute over a panel and then applies layers of marble or graphite powder – at times dyed with pigments. The result is sanded down to a fetishist smoothness, parts of which are carved to create figurative reliefs. Bare textile revealed in the process irritates the seductive illusion of perfection. The appearance of an image and what stands behind it, is a recurring question in the artists’ practice. Her technique, aided by her painting skills, and a twisted sense of humour, open room for discourse.

“The coated, fetishistic superficiality in the art of Sophie Reinhold engages a political agency built on a powerful sense of carnivalesque joy and hope.”
Paolo Baggi Sophie Reinhold: don’t get used to it, in Conceptual Fine Arts, January 11, 2023

Reinhold critically processes her every day, questioning what roles conflict, illusion and lies play. Guided by preposterous contradictions, such as the depiction of wrestlers1 against an almost psychedelic, ornamental background with celestial motifs, the artist investigates the performativity of a conflict as something productive rather than aggressive. The main gallery room holds two sculptures, that widen the space and reveal three more large paintings through the view of them. A relief depicts two levitated, embracing figures, that seem to be entangled into the canvas built from pigmented marble. It is framed by two paintings similar in their ornamental background, however their smoothness obscures the depiction of watching eyes on one side and a falling body on the other. The moment just before awakening perhaps. In the smaller gallery room, a fourth sculpture enclosed by three larger paintings, creates a sense of density. Once passed, the viewer’s reflection is captured in a void of two paintings made of bitumen and graphite. It allures into a doomed fantasy of the third painting: a relief prepared with ground marble, which pictures an idyllic landscape framed by a colourful frieze with skulls. Upon leaving this room an aftertaste of the exhibition title lingers in the back of the mind: träum weiter, dream on.

Spiked with symbols from the past, Reinhold’s motifs come together heterogeneously, which speaks to their very nature that facilitates a humorous rethinking of representative strategies. The insistence on inconsistency, almost as a form of protest, makes way for a process of dissociation when viewing the work. It unfetters questions to new possibilities instead of simulating pre-existing thoughts. The past is not negotiated as something static, instead, it grows nurtured by discourse in an uncontrollable way. Images lie but stripped leave truth.

Sophie Reinhold was born in Berlin in 1981, and currently lives and works in Berlin. Recently she has had solo exhibitions at Fitzpatrick Gallery, Paris, Philipp Zollinger, Zurich (both 2022), Galerie Sophie Tappeiner (2021), Sundogs, Paris and Kunstverein Reutlingen (both 2019) with Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt. Reinhold‘s works have been on view in group exhibitions at Kunsthaus Graz and Fri Art Kunsthalle Fribourg (both 2022), Neue Gesellschaft bildende Kunst, Berlin (2021), Kunstverein Ingolstadt and n.b.k., Berlin (both 2019). She is the recipient of the Villa Romana Prize (2012) and was shortlisted for the Max-Pechstein-Prize 2013, as well as the Columbus Art Foundation-Prize of Kunsthalle Ravensburg (2012).