Ritterbex creates disturbing and endlessly fascinating surroundings. There is always a personal touch to be found in her work, capturing the world around her in a somewhat exhibitionist, provocative manner. She takes her own personal experiences as a starting point for her creative projects, thereby defining her work as an absurdist artistic diary. The construction of women’s identity image plays a central role in her oeuvre. She treats her fictional subjects (which often implies treating herself, for she often plays in her own short movies) with a good sense of humour. This even implies that Ritterbex does not shy away from a slight touch of self-mockery.
Ritterbex seems to constantly challenge the boundaries of traditional artistic representation, making us thereby seriously question the distinction between the realities of art and life in a playful, though critical way. One could argue that Ritterbex steadily deconstructs her own identity by transparently exploring its semi-fictional or constructed character in the works of art she produces. What makes her work so fascinating is the way in which she shows that there is constantly the basic need for this ‘other’ (the Tanja in her own movies) to construct one’s own artistic identity. This is, we could state, a perfect example of the creation of the image of ‘the self’ (in contemporary culture) as a crucial starting point for artistic expression.
Ritterbex certainly succeeds in strikingly confronting the viewer with the chaotic overflow of imagery, with which we are confronted everyday, all day. In addition to this, she aims at transforming quasi-familiar features of daily scenes into otherworldly, partly alienated artistic narratives, using different media for this purpose. Do not be fooled by the semi-naive, almost excessively aesthetic first-look-appearance of her work. This standoffish outlook is misleading, for there is always a more profound tale that is being told through the deeper layers of her paint and in the darker backrooms of the colourful diorama-like sceneries of her videos.
Tanja Ritterbex (The Netherlands, 1985) lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She studies at Academie Beeldende Kunst (Maastricht), Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and De Ateliers (Amsterdam). Recently, her work has been shown at Showroom Mama, Rotterdam (2015), Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht (2015, 2013), W139, Amsterdam (2014) and CFA-Berlin (2014). She will be an artist in residence at Bronner in Tel Aviv (2016).
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