It’s All About Painting opens with an innocent scene in a characteristic southern market with pop music in the background. Plump women set up their stalls of fruit and vegetables, the first customer arrives with a child in her arms, and the day begins. The idyllic atmosphere is abruptly shattered when a pack of wolves with gaping jaws, dressed in camouflage uniform and armed with automatic guns, burst into the market shooting wildly. They flatten everything in their path, both women and things. One of the stallholders tries to resist and kills one of the attackers but is executed amid the heaps of fruit. Hidden beneath one of the stalls, the woman with the child is the only one to survive the massacre. After a short fadeout, we see another market woman facing up to an assailant. Instead of fighting, as we would expect, the two embrace and the wolf gently comforts the woman.
It’s All About Painting expresses the typical aesthetic of the Swedish artist Nathalie Djurberg, whose short animated films are predominantly characterized by sexual and pornographic motifs with scenes of violence and abuse including paedophilia and sodomy. Brutal and perverse at first sight, the videos can only be interpreted with a strong sense of black humour and irony. The thin, stiff figures of people and animals are modelled in plasticine and given bright, expressive colours. The simple stop-motion technique is used to produce animations that are ingenuous but manifest all the power of the human imagination precisely in their naïveté. It’s All About Painting can be read in two different ways. If the title is taken literally, we have a scathing reflection on the enslavement of contemporary painting and its artists. Alternatively, we can see the video as addressing the atmosphere of impending danger created by the unpredictability of terrorist attacks, which force so many people to live in fear and turn every trip to the market into a possible encounter with death. The irrational brutality of these acts is immediately reflected in the action of the video.
Nathalie Djurberg (Lysekil, Sweden, 1974) held a large-scale solo show at the Prada Foundation in 2008. Her works can currently be seen in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami. Solo shows of her work have been held over the years at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, the Kunsthalle in Vienna, the Färgfabriken Centre for Contemporary Art and Architecture in Stockholm and the Kunsthalle in Winterthur (Switzerland). Nathalie Djurberg lives and works in Berlin.