Amelie von Wulffen’s second New York show, like her first, features photo-and-painting collages. But gone are the art-historical, political and pop-cultural references—the Egon Schiele girls, Alexander Solzhenitsyns, John Travoltas and calendar-art gardens—that kept the romantic Expressionism of her previous work safely, if unsurprisingly, locked in an ironic dialectic of high art and low culture. What remains is a subdued collection of obscure but compelling images and a whole lot of painterly brushwork. It looks less like pastiche and more like the real thing.
Using blown-up photographs mounted on irregular scraps of paper, Von Wulffen composes through embellishment, extending images past their edges into dreamy, expressive spaces. Washes of photo-retouching ink compound the moody quality of the pictures: hazy, shadow-drenched shots of outmoded houses and their occupants. The swirling patterns and shifting colors at the edges of the collages suggest “floaters” registered in peripheral vision or, more pointedly, memories just beyond reach.
The collages change dramatically with viewing distance: They’re textural and abstract up close, disjunctive and faintly irritating at mid-range and satisfyingly illusionistic from across the room, where the photographic and painted elements coalesce into a convincing unity. Pick your vantage point depending on your preference. You might make use of two sculptures modeled on daybeds or analysts’ couches (made in collaboration with Lucio Auri). These cryptic and seductive objects sport hand-painted mattress covers and wooden frames and round out a show that rewards extended contemplation