Waggle Dance, Cornelia Baltes’ first solo presentation at rodolphe janssen in Brussels, sees the space teeming with life, activating the gallery with large vividly pigmented paintings built from sprayed gradients, bold gestures and fine brushwork set within a space-wide wall painting.
Titled after a movement some bees enact to share information about the direction and distance of resources like nectar and water, Waggle Dance invites the viewer to enter a zone where Baltes playfully blurs the lines between figuration and abstraction in compositions that never quite settle into an unambiguous motif. We may recognise a shape as a peach or a bum, or perhaps a set of eyes. These forever undefined ‘characters’, as Baltes refers to her paintings, radiate joyfulness and humour.
The paintings are developed from brush-sketches that are themselves painted from the memory of observational sketching in botanical gardens. The super-saturated, rich palette - which in flowers functions to attract and direct bees - in combination with the wall painting extrapolated from foliage, casts the exhibition space as a garden, with the accompanying suggestion that perhaps the audience are the bees.
Typically accessible and generous, the exhibition is an invitation to see differently, taking quotidian subject matter and offering a strange sidelong glance. Like the bees communicating the presence of resources, Baltes’ Waggle Dance performatively gestures toward the multiplicity in painting and acknowledges the important role of the viewer buzzing around the space in completing the work with their own readings and associations.