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Sonja Rieger

Queen on the Nile


September 18 - October 17, 2015


beta pictoris gallery is excited to announce Sonja Rieger - Queen on the Nile, the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.

Sonja Rieger’s new photographs were taken in the town of Camden, Alabama, some thirty eight miles from Selma, Alabama. As of the 2010 census, there were 2,020 people residing in the town; over one out of four households had a female householder with no husband present.

Rieger’s new series of photographs are portraits of young girls in their Halloween costumes, some of the costumes were purchased, some were homemade, as if cobbled together in a marvelous attempt to escape a reality, an everyday routine, a town too small, a place too hard. The girls‘ faces marvel at the camera, as if it would, could, transport them into their newly adopted identity; the superhero, the princess, the queen. In an attempt to document a moment of escape, of wishful “otherness”, we, the spectators, gaze at faces filled with excitement, happiness, shyness, and sometimes disillusion; but also stares of resolve, defiance, and determination.

Photographic portraits as social commentary have existed all through the medium’s life, and Rieger’s most recent series makes us immediately think of the photographs shot in South Alabama by Arthur Rothstein (1915-1986), while working for the U.S. government. Rothstein’s series of images shot in 1937 in Alabama - especially the image “Artelia Bendolph, Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 1937 ” (shown on left). The photograph conveys a strong visual statement on the girl’s living condition, and an immediate parallel is drawn to the living condition of her fellow black Alabamians. The serious, weighted expression on the child’s face poignantly illustrates her disenfranchised social and economic position. The framing of the crude cabin window and the newspaper insulation with its unattainable food advertisements reinforce her isolation from the recovering American economy.
Rothstein often referred to the young girl in this image, Artelia, as a “Queen on the Nile” (1). For Rothstein, this image does so much, with three different effects, all working together to create this one image: “You see the girl - that’s effect one. You see the ad [the blond woman] - that’s effect number two. But the third effect is when you see both images together and recognize the irony.” (2)

Sonja Rieger (b. 1953 in Ansbach, Germany) earned her MFA in 1979 at the Rutgers University Mason Gross School in Brunswick, NJ, and her MA in 1976 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the 21c Museum in Louisville, KY; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, LA; the International Polaroid Collection in Cambridge, MA; the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, AL; and private collections in the U.S. and Belgium.


(1) (2) Arthur Rothstein, Documentary Photography, Focal Press, 1986, page 39


Series: Enamel on stretcher on landscapeSeries: Enamel on stretcher on landscape

Irene Grau


November 4 - December 18, 2015



opening reception

Wednesday, November 4 (6-8pm)


I paint in order to seek a space, and in this process the painting is integrated into structures simply to show the colour - colour, nothing else. But that colour always extends over a surface, which no longer has to be flat, and 'that' which happens between the colour and the surface is what for me takes on an essential relevance. That halo that seems to go beyond the support and project itself over some other place.

I am sure that is what painting is, and also that it is not anymore.

-- Irene Grau

Irene Grau (Valencia, 1986). Lives and works in Valencia.
" She develops her work from relationships between color and space. Focusing on minimal elements of painting as the plane, the color and the support, looking for connections with the environment from two-dimensional chromatic objects that finally are unfolded and projected beyond the surface. Her interest in the context in which the painting is experienced leads her to include architecture and landscape, not as background but as a field that activates the chromatic space. And painting is articulated from the void, from the vibrating space between the different surfaces of color. The permeability of large sheets of transparent color or monochrome stretcher is constituted as a characteristic element of some of her recent series. Her work has been presented in various exhibitions, national and international, highlighting: VOLTA10 with Ponce+Robles, “Los ojos de las Vacas” curated by David Barro at Galería Ponce+Robles, Madrid (2014) “Idolatria Va” Galeria Laura Marsiaj, Rio de Janeiro (2013), “In medias res” Palau Ducal dels Borja, Gandia (2013), “Mutatis mutandis” Galeria Moura Marsiaj, Sao Paulo (2012), “El paso del noroeste” Galería I Leonarte, Valencia (2012), “Irene Grau / Pierre Fischer / Katrin Zuzacova” Michele Balmelli
Gallery, Belinzona (2010) or “Grau / Roberston / Widmer” Gallery Ratus Casty, Davos (2009). "

Series: Enamel on stretcher on landscapeSeries: Enamel on stretcher on landscape

image:   Series: Enamel on stretcher on landscape, 2014

2,63m3 yellow2,63m3 yellow

image:   2,63m3 yellow
(Dyed paper, wood and iron. 2 x 1,22 x 1,10m., installation at the Ducal Palace of Gandia, Gandia, Spain, 2013)



Mimesis - Kornfelder   [Mimetic - Cornfields]

1971, silver gelatin print on baryta paper, 4 elements
each 35 7/16 by 55 1/8 in. (90 by 140 cm)



Barbara and Michael Leisgen, "Mimetische Landschaft", 1974Barbara and Michael Leisgen, "Mimetische Landschaft", 1974

Barbara and Michael Leisgen


January 8 - February 13, 2016



opening reception

Friday, January 8 (6-8pm)




Manuel Caeiro


March 18 - April 30, 2016


opening reception

Friday, March 18 (6-8pm)