Jenny Holzer presents a solo exhibition of paintings for the collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale. War Paintings, consists of a selection of paintings which have been created over the span of a decade. The works present a significant departure from the LED installations for which Holzer is best known for.
Holzer's paintings began as an interaction and representation of declassified and sensitive US government documents concerning the global War on Terror that directly followed the events of September 11, 2001, as well as the United States military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The final works are drawn from memoranda, planning maps, diplomatic communiqués, interrogation records, autopsy reports, and the handwritten ‘cri de coer’ of detainees themselves – which prior to release to the public, the censors heavily redacted.
The documents include texts from the CIA and FBI, and a U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Report detailing the conditions that led to the death of an Afghan prisoner Jamal Naseer, while in the custody of the U.S. military. Holzer traces and transfers the documents before turning them into the grounds for mesmerising, hand-wrought paintings.
The documents are transformed into ravishing silk-screened and hand-painted oil on linen paintings (several times their original size) that invites the visitor both to read and to look. Critics have compared Holzer’s painted work to Andy Warhol’s early 1960s Death and Disaster series, the works of Russian Suprematist Kazimir Malevich, Abstract Expressionism, the “dust writing” of Arabic calligraphy, and even the anonymous street posters that began Holzer’s carrer with her hope they might provoke thoughtful discussion and lively public debate.
Curated by Dr. Thomas Kellian, War Paintings will run from 6 May - 22 November 2015 at the Museo Correr in Venice.