On the Art of Anja Herzog
It looks straight at you
The green eyes are looking exited and friendly, under a brown tentacle-like mop of hair. His mouth has a nearly-smile expression. The person portrayed wears a brown-red striped pullover, his head has the form of a pear and he has neither a nose nor ears – as far as you can tell.
He (or she?) can be seen in one of the 14 oil paintings, which form a family tree of fantasy creatures.
These individuals are painted by Anja Herzog, born 1992. Anja Herzog studied Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden and since her diploma 2017, she has been working as an freelance artist and organizer of art projects in rural areas.
The entity – or from ballpoint pen to oilcolours
Anja Herzog used to prefer ballpoint pens for her drawings.
Huge heads are growing out of snail shells, the hatching and the lines are set clearly.
Then she started experimenting with colours. In the shapes and liquid colour veins she discovered the creatures, over and over again. The same, which had emerged out of her pen before.
Today she prefers painting with oilcolours, on canvas or on walls. The bizarre figures are no longer just coming off experiments, they are unleashed, visualized and planned. In the family tree of the monster family the creatures are painted very accurately, lifelike and colourful. Their genders are so variously, like their appearance and looks: with curved horns, noseless, snarling or looking friendly.
Anja Herzog became more and more interested in the stories of the beings, and tells those in her surreal paintings. They are somehow reflecting our reality, dealing with current topics, like certain patterns of society, in families or gender affiliation.
She indicates seemingly normal facts and circumstances and questions them in her art.
The monsters are completely of this world
Anja Herzog puts the creatures in concrete contexts and realistic scenarios.
They are appearing in our everyday environment. Like the fish-monster, for example, which is sitting in an armchair and watches TV on a big screen. It sits in an ordinary living room, drinks water from a crystal carafe and looks at the “ordinary” world through the eyes and windows of us humans, and in this way points to the unusual, the extraordinary.
A mirror in the mirror.
Sometimes Anja Herzog creates the environment first, before the belonging resident shows up, hatching out of his given conditions, like every real living being.
Sometimes the character is already there, even before they are appearing in the space in the picture.
Often they have a direct connection and traits of their ambience, like for example one creature, which wears a fungus-like hat, just in style of its home, a mossy skull on the edge of a pond.
And that is exactly, what makes it feel so familiar, since we are also individuals, which adapt our environment or become like it.
Anja Herzogs creatures are not alien-like. As surreal the pictures seem to be at the first sight, as much realistic they really are.
They result from a precise power of observation of the behaviour of fellow human beings and the everyday absurdities of our own existence. The figures are based fully in the here and now, coming out of our world, with all authenticity and at the same time unreality.
Locations, which seem acquainted, become surreal sceneries through the presence of the beings.
You catch yourself in the feeling of familiarity and nevertheless you cringe because of the strangeness.
Doing that balance act, the monsters of Anja Herzog thrust you over a threshold and you discover yourself and the way we are living anew, from a very distinct perspective. This view is full of insights but also can lead to very far off horizons.
Anja Herzog is humorous mirroring the world in her paintings, even though sometimes one is tempted to flee the reality through them. But latest, when the monsters look at you in a familiar way or you follow the eye of the fish-creature, which is watching TV, you land very hard – in the here and now.