Exhibition view, ‘The mirror is my mother’, Studio Picknick, Berlin, 2019

left: ‚Verlorene Lebensmühe‘, 2018
Oil and acrylic on canvas
172 x 158 cm

right: ‚Apparatur der eigenen Unzulänglichkeit.
Danke Isa für den Weltempfänger.‘, 2019
Oil and acrylic on canvas
177 x 146 cm

‚Ein guter Witz am Palmenstrand‘, 2019
Oil and acrylic on canvas
171 x 209 cm

‚Tanz mit mir den Krieg‘, 2018
Oil and acrylic on canvas
180 x 140 cm

‚Ohne Titel‘, 2019, Glazed clay, 25 x 10 x 12 cm

left: ‚Ich habe eine tiefe, tiefe Angst‘, 2018
Oil and acrylic on canvas
175 x 145 cm

right: ‚The mirror is my mother‘, 2018
Oil and acrylic on canvas
180 x 140 cm


It seems that Sophia Domagala’s mostly large-format appear wild and confusing at first glance. They exude a peculiar, physical presence sustained by a sense of arbitrariness, by their complexity and colour dynamics. Nevertheless, they contain no frills, nothing that’s not strictly required – everything focuses on the essentials.
It helps to take a step back and examine the origins of this style of painting; one that doesn’t start from an explicit concept, but flirts with a form of seeming naïveté. Yet such command of the laid-back elegance of dilettantism takes perfect mastery of the painterly gesture – and what does this “gesture“ entail?
In Roland Barthes‘ writing on Cy Twombly (Merve, 2003), he states that the gesture is “something like the encore of an act”. When the actual act and action is over, the gesture unites the “indefinite and infinite sum of reasons, drives and idlenesses that surround the act with an atmosphere” (p. 11). In a prior series, Sophia had painted delicate plant arrangements. Here, leaves creep across the canvas, lending the untreated substrate its structure and infusing it with a sense of three-dimensionality. All it takes to construct an entire mental world is the sketched allusion of a jungle. Because this is not about “seeing, thinking, tasting the product, but about the motion that has caused it to look again, to identify or even to enjoy it.” (p. 16). Thus turning the images into trigger points for specific ideas, memories and possibilities…

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