Emeli Theander

March 19 – April 30, 2011

Friday, March 18th 2011, 7 pm

Galerie ADLER is presenting the young Berlin artist Emeli Theander (*1984 Göteborg, Sweden) in her first gallery exhibition!

The painter and street artist Emeli Theander continues to follow traces of outsiders and freaks, diving into worlds inhabited by ghosts. What connects these figures is their existence at the margins of modern imagination

For this first solo show Emeli Theander is dealing with the belief in the Gastkramad. This old Nordic folk-belief describes a special behaviour of ghosts which perhaps could have serious consequences also for the living. According to this folk-belief ghosts are allowed to leave their graves between midnight and sunrise. However, when surprised by morning dawn, they could not move any more, but they still were remaining invisible for humans. In case a human being happened to touch one of the ghosts in this state, he was afflicted by more or less serious illness. Today the term Gastkramad still is being used to describe something which is weirdly thrilling.

Emeli Theander is engaged with the spirit worlds of different cultures. But the question of whether ghosts exist, for whatever reason, stuck between this or another world, or whether they are mere products of our imagination, is not one Theander's work seeks to answer. Real or not, her interest lies in their poetic potential, as catalysts for imaginative scenarios. Thus in the actual process of painting, ghosts become metaphors, for mediators between the realm of the real and the imagined or even for the space ‘in-between’ they inhabit. The continuity of referring to spheres at the margin of or between worlds shows a strong fascination for ephemeral states in which vagueness dominates over fixed meanings.

Surprisingly the paintings themselves are detailed, like careful visual reports of scenes actually observed. The tension of ambiguity the paintings radiate might derive from the interaction between different layers unfolded in each picture. Ghosts are depicted as subjects directed towards the viewer, in the background unidentifiable ghosts make their appearance – even ghosts are haunted by ghosts.

Many of the figures in the paintings for this exhibition are inspired by Korean myths, ghost stories and other findings, like photographs left behind in abandoned houses. The photographs are fragmentary lost memories without a concrete connection point for a random person. What remains is a vague feeling of past situations or the pace of change itself. In using them as a source of inspiration in her paintings, the artist weaves a net of meanings around these fragments and connects them to the notion of ghosts as existences in-between. Women and girls with long hair, Korean pre-modern costumes or the connection between birds and shamans are all worked into the fabric of Theander’s compositions. The attempt to decipher her paintings leaves a lot of open questions and maybe only one certainty – that in creating layers of meaning and focusing on shifting processes between them, theander is mediating herself, between ghosts and humans, and between imaginative scenarios and her paintings.