About the Exhibition – Janina C. Bruegel, Abundance and Loneliness
Bruegels artistic creations focus on the portrayal of people mostly motivated by history or social criticism. Texts from lyric poetry and literature are other sources of her inspirations. In her pictures, past and present flow together in this way.
Up to now three complete sets of works have emerged. We present works here from two of these cycles “People at Night” and “Kaspar Hauser or The Inertia of the Heart”. From the fourth cycle “The Narcissism Epidemic” that started in 2018 and is still ongoing, two pieces have their premiere in this exhibition: “Happy Birthday” and “Quality Time” (2019). In this recent cycle Bruegel explores the effects of the digital media on our relational worlds and their consequences on culture and psyche. The digitalized world deprives real relationships of attentiveness. “Happy Birthday” shows how the fragmented attentiveness of the parents is absorbed by digital distraction.
In the cycle ”People at Night” produced in the time period 2015 – 2016, Bruegel transfers Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem of the same title verse-wise or line by line in her imagery on canvas thereby dealing with Rilke’s view on people.
In the cycle “Kaspar Hauser or The Inertia of the Heart” from 2017, Bruegel shows portraits of people that were very crucial in Kaspar Hauser’s life. She created accurate character portraits after detailed study of the literature including original testimonies, statements and letters of the portrayed subjects themselves, scientific papers and the novel “Kaspar Hauser or The Inertia of the Heart” by Jakob Wassermann. The current exhibition shows the portraits ”Baron von Tucher”, “Professor Daumer”, and “Frau Biberbach”.
The previous cycles and the still ongoing cycle “The Narcissism Epidemic” are connected by one overarching theme “Abundance and Loneliness” with its focus on people.
Bruegel: “In contrast to other living beings humans are difficult to predict: led by instincts and at the same time intelligent, sensitive, capable of abstract thinking, and morally equipped, they find themselves in a conflict which they cannot solve: They think that they can organize and control their lives, what is as long successful as fate steps in and makes their fragile life’s constructs come tumbling down. This discrepancy between human’s fated dependence on one hand and apparent freedom in decision and creation on the other is unique and makes people fascinating.”
Bruegel’s themes and her artistic flow show clearly this human multilayer complexity. Superficial observation is deceiving. The colors, brilliant as the rainbow, dazzling patterns, and decorative compositions allow at first a naïve cheerfulness and unadulterated viewing reminding of the mannerism of Jan Bruegel the Younger of the Bruegel-Dynasty. Turning to her work for a longer time one recognizes the “naked human souls, lying open and unprotected at the feet of the observer” (Bruegel). Her profound portrayals demonstrate a high degree of empathy and psychological astuteness. Bruegel is not only painter; she is also a medical doctor. The professional responsibility for the life of people, who are in absolute exceptional circumstances experiencing feelings of being surrendered and of loss of control, sharpens her eyes, reveals their abyss and inmost needs, and intensifies her emotional solidarity with her fellow men.
(By G.J. Berghout, art historian, International Network of Art, Frankfurt am Main, February 2019).