Library of a Dream

Canada is pleased to present Library of a Dream, Robert Janitz’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. 

The centerpiece of the show is formed by a series of five vertical paintings that together become one horizontal work. The subject of the painting, if that term applies, are long strokes of color that clash against or blend into rainbow-like grounds. The dark calligraphic marks are ambiguous as to what, if anything, they portray. Viewers familiar with Janitz’s paintings will notice several new components. The gradients now fade from the left to right instead of from top to bottom and a new illusionistic facet has emerged: the depiction of three-dimensional openings at the end of gestural strokes that seemingly turn the long painterly strokes into bendy pipes.

The illusion serves to complicate the reading of the work. Janitz uses a squeegee to remove wet paint, resulting in a mark with almost no physical heft. He undercuts this painted reality by adding shadows to depict volumes that don’t exist. The show also features the varied output of Janitz’s studio and includes a sculpture, and portrait format painting, (which he refers to as a volcano) and a painting of two torqued slabs. Janitz’s insistence on variety problematizes the imagery, denying us the confidence of understanding the paintings, as in a dream. Freud considered dreams to be wishes; wishes presented to the dreamer in a coded form so the dreamer will accept them. What better place to dream than in a studio or library? Janitz presents this library as a repository of language that is ordered and processed but also slightly beyond comprehension or control. 

Through color that is hazy and saturated, we can imagine the paintings as a series of bookshelves, or perhaps, as musical notation. The architectonic letterforms that fill the paintings feel like the spines of books waiting to be pulled and opened. The books slouch and recline, as if they were casually tossed onto a pile by a distracted reader lost in thought. This is a working library. Looking through the structure, we are allowed to see atmosphere behind. The flow of color, traversing the surfaces like text on a page, gives the painting temporal rhythm, as if the process of reading is somehow depicted in the gradients and smudgy glyphs. Like drifting off with book in hand, we find ourselves suspended between language and image, between concrete reality and the unconscious.   

Robert Janitz (b. 1962 in Alsfeld, DE) lives and works in Mexico City and NY. Recent solo exhibitions of Janitz’s work include Best of All Worlds (2021) (curated by Gianni Jetzer), Casa Gilardi, Mexico City, The Labyrinth (2021), Sevil Dolmaci Gallery, Istanbul, <3 ist ein Tippfehler (2020), KÖNIG GALERIE, Berlin, and Change in Paradise (2019), KÖNIG LONDON, London. Janitz’s work has been included in a number of recent important group exhibitions, some of these include: Ceramica Suro, MAZ Museo Guadalajara, Mexico (2021-22), Units (2021) (curated by Christian Camacho), PEANA, Monterrey, Mexico, and Frozen Gesture (2019), Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland. From 1982 until 1988, he studied Ethnology, Comparative Religion, Indology, and Art History at Philipps Universität Marburg in Germany. Janitz’s works are held in esteemed private and institutional collections world-wide and his practice has been the subject of numerous reviews and features in various international art publications.