Visual Intervention of the Subconscience • Robert Langenegger

Jul 5 to Aug 2, 2014 • Upstairs Gallery and Video Room

Robert Langenegger’s oil on canvas paintings are often random encounters with phantasmagoria and parody: irreverent works that reframe both historical and contemporary phenomena as narratives of the absurd.

This series of new paintings for his latest one-man exhibition pursue this theme, increasingly exploring narratives related to conquest and contemporary colonialism. Langenegger paints a succession of random stories as a satirical take on binary beliefs: the civilised West and the barbarian, of the foreigner and native, the wildness of untamed nature and the civilising presence of missionary and military intervention. Some works in the series are prompted by images emanating from the Vietnam War, unconsciously drawing parallels to the continuing movement and stationing of troops in the Third World tropics, where history is again repeated as farce.

Some works in the show are random scenes, sudden correspondences from another time and place. On the other hand, some paintings within the show hint at narrative sequences: the dog guides a squad of drunken troops through rice fields, spots for snipers cowering behind sandbags, pisses on a felled soldier’s grave, and is held captive by armed locals in a commemorative group portrait. In the end, the paintings only hint at what has transpired, tell tales in piecemeal. Langenegger leaves the series with an ambiguous pause: making it possible to fill in, and perhaps retell, these stories of unfolding unrest.

—Lisa Ito