Nadja Lana

lives and works/studies in Düsseldorf

About Nadja Lana ... more >

Nadja Lana's "Body Beings" - voyeuristic portraits of lust and fear
by Anna Lang, art historian

A frog, a vulva, a dolphin, a phallus and a horse's head. Motifs that may seem disjointed at first glance cavort on Nadja Lana's canvases. As if through a window, the artist provides a glimpse into a state of feeling between lust and fear that determines her painterly work and requires the viewer not only to see, but to watch.

Nadja Lana's large-format works reveal to the viewer a view of an orgy of motifs. Closely intertwined body parts lead to grotesque animal heads, which are backed by strong colour fields and share the canvas with graphic and ornamental elements. The strong sexual charge of the works cannot be ignored. This is not only conveyed by the consistent nudity of the anonymous mixed creatures, but also suggested by the choice of perspective and the cropped and cinematic glimpses that force the viewer to look directly. The viewers are immediately turned into voyeurs. They thus follow the artist herself, who in her works deals with her own desire for voyeuristic seeing and celebrates the act of watching on the canvas. But the moment of physical pleasure is at the same time accompanied by a feeling of fear. It is a fear of the unconscious, the forbidden and of one's own and others' boundaries. A fear that can inspire and paralyse at the same time. Nadja Lana expressively transports the resulting dissonant feeling of so-called Angstlust, which describes an interaction of two contrary emotions, onto the canvas and turns them into scenes of a moment that - like that of a finger on a hot stovetop - is full of excitement. By translating them into the expressive forms of art, she succeeds in pushing the voluptuous and ecstatic beings back into constructed spaces in the picture in order to act out and allow a lustful and at the same time controlled observation.

In order to consciously pursue those borderline experiences between fear and lust, which serve the artist as a source of inspiration, she visits a swingers' club. The feeling that Nadja Lana wants to convey in her paintings becomes palpable for her in a special way in this lustful place, and at the same time allows her to become a participant in her own art. She captures the escalating goings-on on site in drawings, while she herself is completely undressed. The experience remains in Nadja Lana's memory as a key moment in her artistic development, yet she later describes it as a moment of great vulnerability and overload.

Nadja Lana translates the experience of seeing into a painterly formal language in which above all the haptic qualities of the body are expressed. The carnality of the limbs and the sexual organs is captured on the canvas in sketch-like underdrawings as well as in strong areas of colour with a coarse duct. Supported by the numerous drops of paint that run down the picture surface as an artistic outpouring, the overall impression is one that virtually cries out for physical desire. Nadja Lana also pursues her fascination with object materiality in her exploration of gelatine, raw meat and latex milk and explores the nature of the materials in her works. This is reflected, for example, in her painting "Litchie". Here, the artist experiments with latex milk on the canvas and leaves room for fruitful associations.

While Nadja Lana focuses on the nude and explores it artistically, the identification of the depicted motif is in the background. The associated head, which is partially isolated from the body, is covered by an animal mask that takes the form of a dolphin, a horse or a frog, among others. Through the masking, the actors in the erotic play are anonymised, alienated and their function as objects of desire becomes apparent. Last but not least, the masks refer to the animal instinct of man, which is closely linked to sexual urges. The objectisation of the body and the resulting distancing from an identifiable person enables Nadja Lana to approach the body as if it were a research object. The artist herself does not perceive her works as sensual or erotic, but rather as sobering and an expression of "body science". She often uses photographs she has taken of her models as models for the erotic scenes. Sometimes the artist herself steps in front of the camera and becomes a model and research object for her own studies. The technical versatility of her oeuvre is not only reflected in the field of painting, however. In addition to photography, sculptures and video works also complement the artist's portfolio.

The central depiction of bodies in sexual action is additionally complemented by numerous graphic elements, which are more restrained in their appearance but serve the overall composition as a supporting framework in which the scene can unfold. In this way, Nadja Lana's "body creatures" are embedded in rhythmic architectures and luminous colour fields, framed by writings and accompanied by ornaments reminiscent of the forms of Japanese woodcut art. In this collage-like manner, Nadja Lana depicts a state of feeling that goes beyond what is painted. The two-dimensional picture is allowed to do more than just be seen. In the process of viewing it, it in turn conveys a feeling that addresses the viewer's own sexual (in)shame and makes them relentlessly witnesses and voyeurs of a deeply personal experience of the artist herself.



NADJA LANA was born in Wuppertal in 1992. After initially studying art history at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, she was accepted at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 2016. There she initially worked in the classes of Professor Stefan Kürten and Professor Lothar Hempel before switching to the class of Professor Koenraad Dedobbeleer. She is currently continuing her studies in the class of Professor Ellen Gronemeyer. In October 2020, NADJA LANA opened her own studio in Citadellstraße in Düsseldorf.

Painting forms the main focus of NADJA LANA's work alongside sculptures and video works. In her works, she deals with ambivalent emotional states such as the desire to observe with reluctance and the fearful release from fearful states of mind.

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Selected Group Exhibitions

2022 D.8CHT, Galerie Biesenbach, Cologne
Don't Look Now - A Voyeuristic View, Gallery N10, Berlin
Students of Art Academy Düsseldorf, KIB - Raum für Kunst, Berlin
Rundgang, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
2021 Endspiel, Start Art Week,, Düsseldorf
Rundgang, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
Rundgang, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
7 Taxen, Kunsthaus Mettmann
DIE GROSSE, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Enter Art Foundation, Gerichtshöfe, Berlin




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