wer bis drei zählen kann, kann gerettet werden: Galli

5 November 2022 - 11 February 2023
Installation Views
Press release

Galli’s work is exuberant, wide-ranging and endlessly surprising. It comprises a complex mixture of figures, signs, disembodied parts, porous shapes, scribbles, words, animated architectural elements and domestic objects, such as kitchen utensils and furniture. Her paintings and drawings are informed by personal experiences and act as receptors for the passing moments in the artist’s life. A curious listener, Galli incorporates snippets from radio stations, overheard gossip and words from casual conversations into her work, all of which intermingle and exist on the same plenum of potential interest. Galli’s paintings offer ambivalent depictions of the human condition that stimulate the viewer’s imagination, refusing a binding definition in favor of an open interpretability. Her work abounds with allusions, art historical motifs and references, triggering a flood of associations, sensations and possibly conflicting thoughts in whoever encounters it. The works on view in her solo exhibition, wer bis drei zählen kann, kann gerettet werden, can be loosely grouped by themes of body parts, portraits, domesticity and mythology. All of them were created in Berlin between 1984 and 2014, with the exception of those Galli completed in 1990 during her stay at the Villa Romana in Florence, Italy, where she first began painting interiors. Galli explains this unconscious decision with the feeling of being “constantly enclosed” by the walls surrounding the Villa Romana and the “unbearably narrow” streets of Florence. Looking at the exhibition closely, one can observe that the size of Galli’s paintings and drawings has become reduced over time.


Galli was born in 1944 in Saarland, former West Germany and studied at the Saarland Art School in Sarbrücken before moving to Berlin in 1969 to continue her studies at what is today UDK. She established herself in the West Berlin art scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when she carved out her own niche amidst the masculine transgression of the painterly style of Die neuen Wilden by depicting bodies in states of vulnerability, disfigurement and ecstatic joy. Paying close attention to corporeality and seeing the inexhaustible potential in depictions of the human body, Galli’s work reflects Baruch Spinoza’s infinitely open question: “What can a body do?” She proposes an aesthetic form that firmly rejects the mind-body dualism that ushered in the era of modernity and which still haunts us today. Her headless figures literally decenter the supremacy of the sovereign-thinking man, while their limbs transform in an almost cyborgian fashion into malleable extensions and enter into mysterious connections with banal things and quotidian objects. In the quadriptych o.T. (2010), there is a continuity between such disparate objects as the garbage bag, an anthropomorphic house and a chair and other mundane objects, where the artist becomes just one among other things in the world depicted. While it is the least human of the multiple creatures in the painting, the house is designated as both a figure within as well as the meta-creator of the work itself. In o.T. (2011), a washing machine leads an unfathomable life of its own–perhaps an allusion to invisible domestic labor–and with its uncanny limbs, typifies an inner tension and intensity that makes Galli’s world of constant metamorphosis seem peculiarly animated.


Just like the human psyche, Galli’s work is utterly ambivalent: her paintings perturb as much as they exhilarate. It is part of her ethos to bring the seemingly irreconcilable forces, fractures and contradictions into an aesthetic dialogue. In 2020, her works were on display at KW as part of the 11th Berlin Biennale, which acknowledged “the cracks in the system...those broken by it and their struggles”. Possessing a worldview different from that of an able-bodied person, Galli’s practice remains indispensable today, in a world based on the imperative of unlimited productivity, mobility, and availability, and in which any form of physical dysfunctionality leads to immediate exclusion or is declared in need of treatment. Its continued relevance also relates to the medium of painting itself, where we are currently witnessing an emphasis on historically marginalized subjectivities and their relationship to the broader social sphere, and where artists are ardently exploring the issues of bodily fragility, interdependence, and non-human life.


From 1962 to 1967, Galli studied painting at the Saarland Art School in Saarbrücken. In 1969 she began further studies at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin (today UDK). From 1992 to 2005, she taught at the FH Münster. Relevant exhibitions include Kunstmuseum Schloss Derneburg (2023); Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid (solo, 2023); Spaced Out, Gut Kerkow (solo, 2022); brunand brunand, Berlin (solo, 2021); 11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, KW, Berlin (2020); Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin (solo, 2015); Saarländische Galerie im Palais am Festungsgraben, Berlin (solo, 2008); Kunstverein Augsburg (solo, 2005); Saarlandmuseum, Saarbrücken (2003); Museum St. Ingbert (solo, 2004); Musées de la Cour d’Or, Metz (2001); Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken (solo, 1992); Villa Romana, Florence (solo, 1990); Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg (solo, 1989); Städtisches Bodensee-Museum, Friedrichshafen (solo, 1985); Gropius Bau, Berlin (1983); Moderna Galerija Ljubljana (1983); Galerie der Berliner Festspiele, Berlin (solo, 1981); Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Berlin (solo, 1980); Modersohn-Becker-Haus, Bremen (solo, 1978).


wer bis drei zählen kann, kann gerettet werden is organized by Daniela Brunand.


The exhibition text is written by Sebastjan Brank, taking into careful consideration the artist‘s thoughts and comments on her own work.