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Venue: KW Institute for Contemporary Art


Born 1944 in Heusweiler, DE – lives and works in Berlin, DE

Establishing herself amidst the tumultuous, hedonistic spirit of the West Berlin art scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Galli, like many of her contemporaries, rejected the austere visual language of conceptual art and embraced narrative forms and subjective experience. Fragmented objects, human limbs, and amorphous blobs are playfully melded together in her drawings and paintings.

As Thomas Deecke writes, “Her protagonists are figures of her overflowing imagination… they appear to be marked by the circumstances of life and their fates; they show themselves exposed to the injustices of life in often bold gestures and anatomically highly questionable contortions.” Galli’s recalcitrant figures—in the form of severed arms or legs—reveal a semiotic approach to everyday individual experiences, which oscillate between the poles of cheerfulness and horror, struggle and lust, and sexuality/desire and brutality.

Similar stories can also be found in her artist books—art catalogues that she cuts up and paints over, transforming them into unique objects. Galli determinedly blazed her own path within a generation dominated by the (male) painters of the New Fauves. Fundamental to her work are the physical and psychological torment of her figures and her agile intellectual play with literature and language.

In Turbasky (1987) the artist’s own handprints, smeared in red paint, add a macabre dimension to two bodies entwined in what looks like an embrace. The thrashing about of hands and feet in their untitled work from 1989 suggests a scene that could be sexual or violent—or both. The selection of works on display pays homage to an artist, activist, and beloved art professor whose pioneering work and life has not been duly acknowledged within conventional art historical narratives.

Michèle Faguet

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