Katarina Janeckova Walshe Secrets of a Happy Household

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The gallery is reopening Tuesday, 9 March, currently by appointment only. We look forward welcoming you 7 days a week 11 AM – 6 PM.

Please click here, call, or email us at +49 30 24 34 24 62 or info@dittrich-schlechtriem.com to schedule your appointment.

DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM is pleased to present SECRETS OF A HAPPY HOUSEHOLD, the first solo show with the gallery in Berlin by KATARINA JANECKOVA WALSHE (b. 1988 in Bratislava, Slovakia / lives and works in Corpus Christi, Texas, USA). The exhibition features large-scale oil and acrylic paintings on canvas as well as a series of works on paper and writings. Janeckova Walshe documents her life in various portraits and depictions of human and animal figures cast in mundane yet provocative scenarios, with titles that are as fittingly descriptive as they are fraught such as Dishwashing In Texas III, Marriage Is a Choice, and What Did You Do All Day Baby?. Expressive compositions of cowboys and bears or domestic interiors and scenes from intimate relationships are paired with self-portraits navigating open or obstacle-filled Texan landscapes, altogether conveying a blend of unvarnished truth and psychological fantasy.

Janeckova Walshe’s sophisticated, albeit stylistically varied approach and substitution of human and animal forms lends itself to a kind of hypnagogic and allegorical reading. Representing familiar scenes and informed by selected facets of her own life, her works articulate a larger narrative on identity, femininity, and the complexities of power. While purposeful and narrative, the imagery gives the viewer space to reflect on their own personal history and step into the shoes of the posed figures in order to process these archetypal embodiments of various identities.

For all their suppleness, Janeckova Walshe’s female figures are vigorous and muscular, their ministrations suffused with courage and humor. The visual idiom devised by the artist—who took up bodybuilding to steel herself for the physical strains of painting and motherhood—unlocks a dimension of the role of partner and mother that has been eclipsed by male fantasies of self-sacrificing maternal meekness: the strength and life-sustaining function of love and the work of caring that one body performs in the service of another in the family, under one roof, in one household.

It is a play with female desire that bears fantastic fruit yet is rooted in the body. The sex it renders is not pornographic, on the contrary: it eschews depiction in favor of the lightness of movement and a love for the figures’ becoming-flesh in their togetherness. Yet with all this good cheer, the ground from which it grows and the shadow the body casts on it are not absent from the picture: some of the great questions in feminist literature and theory concern the uses of a culturally informed sexual desire that is haunted by fantasies of submission, by the allure of the idea of being overpowered and protected, and the question of how all that is compatible with a self-determined life and with securing the space in which one’s own imaginary, an artistic oeuvre that does not shy away from such contradictions, can take root and flourish.