The rk Gallery for Contemporary Art in the Berlin-Lichtenberg Town Hall is currently showing a solo exhibition by Berlin-based artist Tijana Titin. Titin’s large-format abstract, undulating pictorial worlds are presented on around 300 square metres. The exhibition can be visited until 11 October 2023. At the same time, further works by Tijana Titin will be exhibited at the Jeonnam International Sumuk Biennale 2023 in South Korea (1 September – 31 October 2023).
Image above: Tijana Titin, Insomnia Swirls, 2023, Oil and oil pencil on canvas, 170 x 420 cm, Installation view second room © Studio Tijana Titin
Dissolution and Reemergence
What most immediately becomes clear in Tijana Titin’s paintings is a connection to the elements. In images almost universally permeated by a kind of wateriness, splashes of frothy white prompt an involuntary association: that of waves accumulating force in the wind, crashing up against each other, refusing any direction or external order. This impression is supported by the works’ materiality: although Titin works almost exclusively with oil paint, her images elude a certain solidity in color and surface. Rather, a translucent application of paint gives them a light and airy appearance: colors correspond to underlying layers, combine, and allow us to trace the process of their emergence. This fluid character is reminiscent of watercolors – further contributing to the impression of water.
In the exhibition “Immersed in Poetry”, there is a division between Titin’s color worlds: one half consists of vibrant, bright and warm colors, while the other is composed of darker shades. Ambivalence, however, is found in both. “Liquid Sun”, for example, sets a brightly lit stage. Its magmatic bursts and movements in yellow are interrupted by contrasting purple/violet, which makes an all the more bold appearance against the painting’s white splashes and highlights. Rather than mellow and sunny, the scene is more evocative of hellfire – pure, chaotic forms and planes are set tumultuously against one another. And yet, there is calm within this scene, a gentle drift that seeks to lure us into recognizing familiar forms – the silhouettes of animals, humans, plants – where there are none.
Despite a fiery appearance, there is often also a darkness that creeps into Titin’s color landscapes: even in “Phoenix”, where the pervasive use of vivid red and orange misdirects the viewer towards an association with the rising sun. On further reflection, what we see here is closer to a sun bursting with energy. Its composition hints at a human form, and yet the lingering threat and danger of this fiery entity doesn’t emerge through a figural approach. The longer we look at the painting, the more it evades a fixed, straight-forward interpretation – which the title might otherwise lead us to attempt. It is not about a Phoenix figure, but rather a gesture or landscape that indicates a reemergence – or the feeling of it – connected to something phoenix-like.
A particularly dark canvas, “Impromptu” immediately brings an explosion to mind – pale, red-tinted froth and luminescent sparks spray outward from the center, its forms like fragments of skull and bone. But, once again, what seems recognizable at first soon disassembles and gives way to something else: pure, vivid motion. The painting’s color palette is set in deep contrast to works like “Liquid Sun”. We’re again led towards false assumptions: rather than a specific form or subject, what the work articulates is a feeling – one that’s immersive and timeless, lingering just beneath our consciousness.
A third route, perhaps, also opens up – a middle ground between the poles of darkness and light. It is there, where Titin employs a more neutral color palette: comprising white, gray, ochre, blue and light brown. But these “in-between” spaces are not places of mediation and negotiation. On the contrary, it’s here that the biggest misconception occurs. In works like “Immersed in Poetry VII”, the clashes and surges reach new heights: movement eclipses form, color overpowers subject.
What Titin’s works reveal, then, is an engagement with a kind of primordial matter – brimming over from an internal thrust. If we think of the world of particles and quanta, then reality is the pure surge and correspondence of energies – sometimes waves, sometimes particles, both localized and everywhere. Titin captures the feeling that, out of this chaos, something is created through humans and put out into the world. In this sense, her work becomes a series of attempts to make the nameless – that which can only be felt – visible in all of its dynamism. It comes into being in the break and spray where strokes rise and clash, and it spills out in waves from the center of the painting to its edges. In the process, a multitude of actions are invoked: searching, colliding, bursting, breaking out, being thrown, drifting, grasping and, finally, comprehending. The latter of which, however, never reaches a conclusion, but remains in a perpetual state of motion – always pushing further, washing away, and then carrying on some more
Text: Julianne Cordray, Peter Wagner
Tijana Titin was born in Zrenjanin, Serbia. After graduating with a diploma from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, in 2006, she received a government scholarship from Serbia and subsequently moved to Germany, where she began studying painting at Universität der Künste (UdK) Berlin in 2007. She completed her master’s studies at UdK in 2010 (class of Prof. Held). Numerous exhibitions followed, and in 2016, Titin was awarded the Dorothea Konwiarz Prize for painting. From 2014 to 2016, she was also a guest lecturer at the Chinesisch-Deutsche Kunstakademie (CDK) in Hangzhou, China. Her recent exhibitions include “The Agony and the Ecstasy” at Maddox Gallery in Los Angeles. Currently, her solo exhibition “Immersed in Poetry” is on view at rk – Galerie Berlin (through October 11, 2023). Her work is also being featured in the 2023 Jeonnam International Sumuk Biennale in South Korea (September 1 – October 31, 2023).
Friday, 07. July until Wednesday, 11. October 2023
Mon – Fri 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat + Sun closed