Lenia Hauser’s paintings trace
By Kate Mothes
“My works are dedicated to a fundamental element that is easily overlooked: the ground beneath our feet,” says Lenia Hauser, who paints misty, amorphous forms characterizing enigmatically layered surfaces. Fascinated by the myriad types of earth and materials that texture our landscape, she thinks of each painting as a portrait of what she describes as a “geographical structure.” She imagines settings as if viewed from a vertical aerial perspective—straight down—yet a sense of distance, depth, or scale remains ambiguous, evoking a mysterious, drifting sense of displacement or fuzziness.
Created by layering spray paint, acrylic, oil pastel, textiles, and a hazy varnish onto to wooden panels, Hauser resists clearly defining edges of the island-like shapes that connect, break up, and appear to float from edge to edge. Her paintings represent moments in time, memories, and an interest in physical geography. “The traces of my walks and observations find their way intuitively into my work; there are rarely sketches, photographs, or short videos from which I work,” she says.
Inspired by ancient Chinese landscape painting, Hauser is interested in how portraying a scene or environment transcends a simple representation of a landscape and can be read as a reflection of personal experience, culture, or philosophy. “Knowledge and gesture flow together and give rise to new works that are geographies in themselves—existence in themselves—not painted after a model,” she says. Drawing on the aggregated textures and surfaces that we traverse everyday, whether human-made or natural, by situating her works within the language of abstraction, she invites multiple interpretations.
“My works are dedicated to a fundamental element that is easily overlooked: the ground beneath our feet.”
All images © Lenia Hauser
Header: Rug Fog, 2019. Mixed media on wood, 70 x 100 centimeters
Side-by-side, left: Sedimentation, 2021. Mixed media on wood, 100 x 140 centimeters; right: Gravel, 2020. Mixed media on wood, 100 x 140 centimeters