Trapped in black:
“The Night has Wings”

Cornelia Schleime (*1953)

Painting by Cornelia Schleime, acrylic, shellac, asphalt varnish on canvas, 160 x 200 cm
© Cornelia Schleime

A painting with a pitch-black background. At the centre: a girl with a fixed gaze. Her long plaits fly out beyond the margins. Her pale face stands out, whereas her arms, stretched sideways and painted in brown, and her dark dress with white sprinkles are harder to distinguish.

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
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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