Closer Scrub,
Curated by Samuel Leuenberger & Elise Lammer
SALTS, Basel
1 February – 13 March 2015

Many would agree that contemporary art does not appreciate references to the past. A historical mention or any allusion to time, puts a gesture at the risk of obsolescence. To hell with status quo! This text is dedicated to timelessness.

Sometimes occupying the entire surface of a wall, as if floating free, defying scale, Tyra Tingleff’s paintings suggest radical close-ups of impressionist masterworks. Like the blown-up sample of a swirly, expressive sky or a microscopic fragment of one of Mary Cassat’s delicate backgrounds.

History is the interpretation of a timeline and the succession of events is anything but timeless: new times, new meanings, over and again. Overlapping comparisons flow into my mind. I can’t stop thinking that over the course of centuries, the impulse behind painterly gestures has been constant, and their genesis has remained (somewhat) the same. Crisis of value, terror, acceleration of time and meaning, slowing down of compassion, break-ups, nostalgia. Love.

Timelessness is found in the many layers of stains and scrubs Tingleff’s paintings have been processed through. It feels like a torture for the canvas, and a catharsis for the painter. Yet, the result is harmonious, almost healing. If the semiotics of emotions are complex, the economy of gesture is rather simple. A joy for a brushstroke, a tear for a scrub, a bitter contempt for an invisible fingerprint, a plead for a caress.

A few weeks before the opening, it was decided to change the original title of the exhibition: Paris Can Wait! Resisting interpretation and protecting timelessness, we agreed that Paris should not wait: collective catharsis first! Because the world seems to regret, powerless, that the collapse of a society is trapped into a never ending loop of abstract repetition, can fear escalate endlessly?

Beyond the expected despair, I lose myself in the infinite strata of colours, it soothes me.


Text by Elise Lammer, January 2015

All photos by Gunnar Meier