Disorder and Early Sufferings

selected works
1996 – 1998
10-28 January 2006
galerie müller & plate

Disorder and Early Sufferings
Early paintings by Iranna GR

When in the early 90's I saw paintings by Iranna for the first time, I was surprised and couldn’t help thinking of the short story by Thomas Mann: Disorder and Early Sufferings. A young, handsomely smiling artist was there and his paintings depicted utmost tragedy, convulsed men, ordeals, conviction into catastrophes.  Lumps of rock were falling down, dotted with sharp spikes, on spread-out humans with huge desperate eyes. Figures resembling raw meat tumbled out of a frame and were placed in coffin-like boxes. Imploring arms were reaching out for a rescue-person, but in vain. But on second view you could see that in disregard of these sorrowful figures at the same time a deeply human, even comforting aura was present. He who tumbles to the ground is cushioned; he lying already in a coffin is surrounded by bright violet light, almost from inside. The big eyes with their tragic appearance are, when closely screened, also curious ones looking into the world. The suffering figures also display an inner opposition, and inner stoicism. They act against the ordeal; they fight the power of destruction. Many of the paintings can be seen from a differing perspective: is there an imploring hand reaching out for a rescuing figure or rather a figure stretching out his consoling hand to someone? Is there indeed someone plunging into an abyss of sufferings, or is he rather saved and given back to life with renewed hopes? This I learned from lookers-on who had seen Iranna’s work for the first time; thus you could interpret them as well. Indeed his work of the second half of the nineties shows clearly such a development. There are only very few paintings of the artist which waive a human figure. Over and over again a figure, mostly asexual, is laying on the floor or flying over a fathomless deep or floating freely in the space. Around the figures realms are constructed in strict order; they are like huge shelves, like piled up walls, limitations of the space, seemingly rigid and static, but then also dissolving into floating motion. Space becomes a central theme of Iranna, more precisely: man in space. With this the artist recurs to an old theme which reigned western art since Renaissance times. Here, however, a distinct reduction to arch-types prevails, a concentration upon universal validity: how does a man react to his environment, how is he tied up in a world growing more limited and more open simultaneously? The answer can for sure be found in a non-defined position in the space, in the floating, in detaching from the ground, in submerging into regulated structure of space. Iranna’s paintings present the principle of ordo, which was already present in the scholastic system of the middle Ages. Man is the centre of all things. The space around man is the definition of his existence.

If you look at it this way, the deeply human, ever engaging smile of the artist is not a surprise anymore. That’s what I experienced in the 90ies and still continue to do.

© Ernst W. Koelnsperger
© For the translation Arne E. Fuchs 2005