Portikus Frankfurt am Main exhibits a new complex of works by Christa Näher. The exhibition comprises works created in the past months: large-formatted canvas works, photographs, screen-prints, small-formatted works on paper. The artist, teaching at Städelschule in Frankfurt and living in Cologne, became known in the mid-80s through dark-hued paintings of recurring subjects, especially animals, creatures half-man and half-animal, as well as landscapes. The picture "Der Schacht" ("The Shaft", 1985-89), on which Christa Näher painted for three years, marks a new phase of her work, in which the representation of spaces gains significance as an independent theme in her painting.

Often, Christa Näher's work has been viewed as closely tied to the subconscious and the dream-world, on account of the pictures' dark tones and atmospheric drama, as well as their selection of mystical, fantastic motifs.

The exhibition at Portikus now makes clear a new dimension in the artistic path of Christa Näher. Portikus' "white cube" is transformed using double walls and chambers made of fabric with diverse openings, views, and barriers. Christa Näher thus creates a "room within the room", confronting the actual structure of the space with the imaginary space of her pictorial solutions. This does not have to do with a representation of reality or a naive, illustrative transfer of visionary image-spaces to the real exhibition space, but with the interplay and confrontation of interior and exterior spaces.

The sequence of numerous black-and-white photographs in the exhibition catalogue makes it clear that Christa Näher consistently investigates this theme also beyond her pictures and the exhibition situation at Portikus.

Photos: Katrin Schilling