Trapped in black:
“The Night has Wings”

Cornelia Schleime (*1953)

Cornelia Schleime, Die Nacht hat Flügel, 1996
© Cornelia Schleime

Plaits are common theme in the work of Cornelia Schleime (*1953). The artist often plays with this hairstyle for neat little girls, and it can take on a life of its own in her paintings. The tightly woven braids worn by her characters reach out like tentacles, menacingly grasping a neck or spreading wide like a bird in flight – as in this work with the poetic title “The Night has Wings”. But the little girl with the earnest face cannot simply take to the air. Her plaits spin out beyond the frame, trapping her in the dark picture space.

The artist, always happy to experiment, chose asphalt paint for the deep, iridescent black encasing the figure. The effect on the canvas is denser and blacker than that of acrylic, for example. It creates a coarse surface, reinforcing the frail vulnerability of the girl.

The Night has Wings
1996
Acrylic paint, shellac and asphalt paint on canvas
160 x 200 cm
Acquired through the artist promotion of the Senate Department for science, research and culture, Department of Fine Arts, Berlin, 1996

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