There is a glaring sense of order in German artist Jorinde Voigt’s works; a sober elegancy that permeates all of her drawings. Pastel-coloured ink and fine lines govern a refined balance of abstract forms and arcs, whose discreet gracefulness is countered by the strictness of her process and reveals her compelling ability.
Voigt’s practice revolves around the investigation of the bodily functions and biochemical reactions occurring in living organisms. Biology plays a crucial role in her approach, as do the forms existing in nature. By repeating drawn and painted schemes and spiralling lines, she creates images that appear as genetic diagrams or musical scores - a coding system that explores the multiple layers between us and our surrounding world. Consequently, her entire work presents itself as a trace of what has been, but also creates a space where the present and future tenses coexist in temporary suspension.
Voigt seems to capture elements of the world’s underlying information and makes them visible through her works. The truth they tell is that we are pieces of a never-ending story, in which every element keeps repeating over and over, and even what ends, could sprout again.
All these aspects converge into ‘Salt, Sugar, Sex’, Voigt’s first solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery in Milan. The main gallery space features a series of medium-to-large scale drawings in which a minimal outline shapes images which contrast against the white background of the paper. At times perfectly centred and at times slightly closer to the upper borders, they have the visual appeal of flowers dissolving into a cloud tinged with light pink, as in ‘Observations in the Now II’, or of anatomical parts, such as the rose-coloured ‘Beobachtungen im Jetzt I’, that secretly alludes to the female sexual organ.
In Voigt’s works colour always meets a movement and this is especially evident in ‘JA ODER NEIN’, where a swirl of lines takes the form of sets, each of which is linked to the next. Here, colour is not only surface oriented, but also plays a part in the artist’s effort to freeze the present time and other invisible phenomena. It also evokes a larger claim. Recalling Humorism and others body theories, the artist conceives the bodily health as resulting from the balancing of different factors, each in accordance with a specific colour and with corresponding temperaments and humors.
Downstairs ‘Things to Wear IV’, one of the hand-painted and embroidered kimonos stemming from Voigt’s collaboration with the fashion designer Mads Dinesen, steals the show. Floating into the azure-blue of the lining, patterns trigger a synaesthesic game abounding in semantic clamour. Translating her practice into a garment, Voigt manages to define a space that poses the viewer as a social subject involved in the fabric of the universally shared discourse about our innate faculty of choice - a space in which mathematical, philosophical, sexual and aesthetic considerations are deftly interdependent.