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Janaina Tschäpe
Forest Spirits, 2011

Overview of work.

University of South Florida, Tampa
School of Music lobby

“You look at something and try to find out where it ends. So the contemplation of a landscape is always a search, the search of something new, the search of time.”

Janaina Tschäpe works across a variety of media, making use of a dynamic combination of photography, drawings, paintings and sculptures, to invent lush landscapes of color, full of imaginative biological creatures, amorphous forms and fertile figures. Referencing myths, dreams and memories, her imagined spaces reinvent our perceptions of the natural world. Sharing her name, Janaina, with the Brazilian sea goddess of the Candomblé religion, Tschäpe references water and fluidity throughout her work and her expertise with layering of color invites the viewer into the depths of the organic universe.

Tschäpe’s painting process is often spontaneous and organic, with expressive gestures emerging as an extension of her body. In translating this artistic vocabulary from that of a canvas to a larger wall she was forced to shift her perspective and adjust the relationship of her body for the scale of the mural. Embracing the sheer physicality of the wall’s surface, Tschäpe adapted her familiarized movements and brushstrokes accordingly, using extended strokes, and much bigger brushes to apply the paint.

The viewer is invited to wander through abstract imagery that is not necessarily recognizable, and the relationships between form, color, and line build and crescendo, eventually becoming readable, like classical sheet music. Tschäpe created a system of palimpsests; each brushstroke a materially emphatic note that partially occludes a previous mark. Forms have been built and colors orchestrated through layers of accumulation depicting the deeply-layered remembrance of her body’s action of painting.

Janaina Tschäpe was born in 1973 in Munich, Germany and was raised in São Paolo, Brazil. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Hochschule fur Bilende Kuenste, Hamburg and her Master in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She lives and works in New York and Rio de Janeiro. Tschäpe’s work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the world, including Tokyo, São Paolo, London, and Berlin. Her work is also included in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary of Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Collection Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sophia, Madrid; Harvard Art Museum, Boston; Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil; MAM Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil; Moderna Museet, Stokholm, Sweden; Mudam Musée d'Art Moderne Grand Duc Jean, Luxembourg; The New Art Gallery, Walsall, United Kingdom; SMAK, Stedelijk Museum voor actuele kunst, Gent, Belgium; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York,; Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, Austria; and the USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa


Alternate angle.

Detail of mural.

Detail of smaller mural.


Forest Spirits made possible by Florida's Art in State Buildings Program