Florian Meisenberg


17 September / 31 October 2020

As they climbed, the space widened and they rose into an ever broader light, cold and dry, in which every sound from the oasis reached them pure and distinct. 

At the end of a corridor of indeterminate length, bathed in lines of brushed Prussian blue, lies a window. Through it, a soft, stratified landscape quivers in a slow breeze. The sky is powder blue, framed by orange-tipped mountains and brushland, with a layer of pale yellow sand below. 

The bright air seemed to vibrate around them with a vibration increasing in length as they advanced, as if their progress struck from the crystal of light a sound wave that kept spreading out. 

These elements, excerpted from from Meisenberg’s latest series of paintings, possess the same tactile quality as the corridor walls, only the images have been digitally animated, imbued with trembling, traversing life. The staccato sprigs of plant life that cover the terrain blow gently, implying a breeze, as wisps of delicate cloud pass overhead. Every so often, an object materialises in the distant sky and comes flying towards the pane’s flat surface: a plume, a leg, a single wing.

The whole sky rang with a single short and piercing note, whose echoes gradually filled the space above her, then suddenly died and left her silently facing the limitless expanse. 

As the sky turns first lilac, then a bruised, crepuscular indigo, the landscape below falls dark. Glinting pinpricks appear in the form of stars, obscured intermittently by swathes of mist and cloud. As day turns to night, then to day once more, birdlike fragments continue to appear, hurling themselves through the scene with impressive velocity. The repeated thump of their impact on the window begins to form an abstract, percussive baseline; a metronomic reminder of the scene’s ultimate fragility in the face of passing time. 

From east to west, in fact, her gaze swept slowly, without encountering a single obstacle, along a perfect curve. 

The corridor’s walls are built at an angle, drawing the eye through to their narrowest point—the window— and punctuated by a series of circular canvases. Meisenberg refers to as portholes, though whether this casts the amorphous blue corridor as a ship or the ocean itself is an open question. They hover along the brushed walls like saucers, offering up visions of swarming, ambivalent life. 

Organic motifs such as snails, mountains and human heads abound, though all seem tainted by a note of existential confusion. The greenery is not comforting, the sky a queasy yellow. A soft breath of panic runs through the undergrowth, sending withered leaves up into the air along with the snails that appear to swarm. They hint at a swollen decadence; a need for decomposition and renewal. A manmade clock clings to a piece of viscera, framed by a mop of recognisable, angular hair. Tendrils of fire tickle at buildings and whole solar systems of activity as the late afternoon sun burns overhead. Time runs on apace, urging a return of all matter to the great warm circle at the core of life. 

Still farther off and all the way to the horizon extended the ocher and gray realm of stones, in which no life was visible. 

These machinations occupy multiple levels of scale and perspective, all crowded into the same limited spheres. Within each porthole, the planetary and the microscopic collide in an experiential architecture of the absurd, wherein interior and exterior worlds exist in a frenzied simultaneity. Ideas and faces recur in long, algorithmic chains, presenting different versions of themselves—different dreams—of the world and of themselves. Dreams of the womb and the window, and of the hopeful landscape flickering there, just out of reach. 

Above the desert, the silence was as vast as the space. 

Source: Extracts from ‘The Adulterous Woman’, Albert Camus