Daniëla Wolfer’s paintings seem to invite charges of weightlessness: fetishizing pop-cultural ephemera like Sesame Street, celebrity DJs and trash TV, her shiny Stuttgart-based tableaux are unapologetic worlds away from the weighty concerns of a Polke or Richter. Yet these glossy lacquers, some sprayed appropriately onto the aluminum-plated boards often found on urban dance floors, are only superficially superficial: by insouciantly sidestepping all things dour, they transcend their local origins and speak directly to an increasingly homogenized global youth culture.
Likewise, Amsterdam’s new Upstream Gallery seems worlds away from the city’s Chelsea-like warren of galleries in the Jordaan. A smallish white cube on a remote canal, it’s not clamoring to be profiled in Wallpaper, or host a workshop by a hip graphic design collective from Reykjavik on the dangers of the virtual panopticon. In fact, like Wolfer, Upstream seems to flaunt its lack of outré trappings, presenting saleably-sized paintings on four bare walls (plus some videos by Marc Bijl in the basement).
Wolfer is squarely part of what Germany refers to as Generation Golf (known to the rest of the world as Generation X), and its obsessions are boldly on display here: fashion, comics, vintage sci-fi – aesthetic comfort food, all mixed brightly into childlike collages that depict their central characters from many perspectives at once, like remixes of themselves, infinitely resilient. It’s as if these paintings refuse to inhabit a world overflowing with digital perfection and dirty bombs, preferring to seek authenticity in their own irreproducibility, in the zoomed-in hands of a DJ twiddling knobs.
Like the flailing urban hipsters depicted in Untitled, they’re either being exploded into the world by an unknowable force, or deliberately jumping into the fire below with youthful abandon.
(Originally published in Flash Art in March 2004)