Emma Geliot's picture

Trine Sondergaard, Guldnakke

Ffotogallery, Turner House, Penarth

Are they portraits? Well, kind of... the walls of Turner House are lined with female heads, each of which is adorned with complicated traditional Danish head garments. But all the figures are turned away from the viewer; apart from one, that of woman who appears to be blind in one eye, her half-gaze averted. Such categorisations would do little to help us understand the mysterious femininity these images radiate. S ndergaard is just borrowing the motifs and aesthetic sensibilities of traditional portrait painting, a genre which is very much focused on the individual. The dialogues these visual meditations engender reach out further than that.

Strude, TrineSondergaard

Interspersed between the busts are sparse interiors, rather like Vermeer's but after a post-bankruptcy 'everything must go' house sale. It feels like a privilege to be, for once, entrusted with a mystery in the gallery context; we are invited to share in a subtlety that is born out of complexity; so much that is so human said with so little. The images feel timeless, but they do not mindlessly ape the visual motifs of the work they reference, (as was much evident in the National Gallery's recent Seduced by Art show).

S ndergaard pares down her visual language to offer us slow art. The ingredients are few, but each one of them is carefully chosen. The works are often many times life size and are pigment printed on modern resin-coated paper within hard, dark box frames. They bear no physical resemblance to Vermeer's tiny jewels, but S ndergaard's works feel like they are very much his descendents. Her Gadameresque sensibilities disclose the weight of tradition through object, space and a long process of just plain looking. The book that accompanies the show, Stasis is lovingly conceived and, unusually perhaps, fully does just justice to what is an astonishing body of work. Stasis rests gently in Ffotogallery's Turner House space until 25th Jan 2014.

Ric Bower

Interior #13, Trine Sondergaard

Images: All Trine S ndergaard

Guldnakke #8, 2012

Strude #19, 2008-10

Interior #13, 2007-12