Anna Meyer


In the past few years, in the face of neo-liberal globalisation and the increasingly manifest climate catastrophe, painting in particular has presented itself as an aesthetic titbit, or as “a fetish and a pointless gimmick for those who would ignore the impending flood,” as the philosopher Theodor W. Adorno put it. But Anna Meyer’s paintings have never been part of this game. On the contrary, her socio-critical reflections always go hand in hand with her visual motifs and their formal implementation.

The paintings in her latest exhibition, Nostalgia for an Age yet to come, deal with urban issues. You might say that her exhibition consists of two parts: a dialectical one and a structured one. In the first part, her series The Mirror licks the Crisis, The Mirror licks the Painting, the monumental glass-and-steel architecture of bank, insurance and office buildings is presented in shimmering and glistening colours, demonstrating a hubris bristling with ostensible power. Yet the buildings are but reflections of themselves, rather than actually being reflective and questioning themselves. They are just glittering narcissistic show-offs, flaunting their own status and grandeur. Meyer’s paintings point out that this ostentatious architectural display, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for social hierarchies, is absurd, daunting and fascinating all at the same time.

In the second part of her exhibition, Anna Meyer presents images from her solarCity series, which proposes an antithesis to architecture as a symbol of dominance – something that is becoming increasingly obsolete in the light of the current economic crisis. Yet these small paintings, which she produced for the exhibition Schilderweg at this year’s Festival of Regions in Linz (Austria), are also reflective. They present situations in the everyday lives of the “ordinary” inhabitants of the solarCity district in Linz, a settlement that is endeavouring to be as environmentally friendly as possible through its use of solar energy. The naïve yet realistic character of these paintings emphasises both the socially and ecologically responsible approach of this highly ambitious architectural project (ambitious because its objective is to create a higher quality of life for everybody) and questions the disadvantages of life here – for example the large number of bans existing here.

Referring to the title of this exhibition, which is a quote from a song by the British punk band The Buzzcocks, Anna Meyer analyses this ambivalence: “The signpost paintings represent ‘nostalgia for an age yet to come’, a yearning for something that is not yet history, but that people are already trying to turn into history – although they can have no control what actually goes down in history.”

Raimar Stange