Gouache on paper
70 x 100 cm (27 1/2 x 39 3/8 in) (unframed)
79 x 109 x 4 cm (31 1/8 x 42 7/8 x 1 5/8 in) (framed)
Signed and dated verso
From a series of large-scale gouaches, this work depicts a Brutalist structure. The building is Chiesa di Santa Maria della Visitazione, a church in Rome planned by the Italian architect Saverio Busiri Vici and built in 1965-71. The building is painted within a dramatic mountain landscape, inspired by sceneries from the Isenheimer Altar in Colmar, the Gothic masterpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516. The dystopic, even postapocalyptic overtones of the depicted architectural environment are echoed by the smaller motifs of the work: a colony of oversized mushrooms and a wolf devouring a prey’s carcass.
In her gouaches of architectural sites Isa Melsheimer constructs small autonomous worlds, seemingly detached from their real-world settings. The artist often chooses source material showing the building in their original condition, that is, without signs of subsequent decay or dilapidation and without later architectural or landscaping additions. Since the found photographs on which she bases the gouaches are often in black and white, the artist effectively reimagines the colors of the buildings and their interiors, unrestrained by the strictures of verisimilitude.