LOOKING AT TANJA SELZER’S PAINTING FROM THE PAST YEARS ONE SEES FIGURES, MOSTLY WOMEN, SOMETIMES COUPLES OR GROUPS, USUALLY NAKED, IN A SEXUAL WAY.
THEY SEEM TO BE FAMILIAR, THOUGH IT MIGHT BE AN OLD MEMORY… AND THEN IT’S AS IF WE SEE THEM SOMEWHAT BLURRY, TELESCOPED OR THROUGH A SCREEN.
Ofir Dor: I’d like to ask who are these figures? Or rather: who are these figures for you?
Tanja Selzer: I steal the characters from porn films. It is important for me that I do not know the characters, that they are anonymous, only in this way can they become projection surfaces for my own stories in the painting process. By detaching them from their actual context, they gain the possibility of a new perception.
Ofir: How do you select an image from this infinite ocean of images?
Tanja: I take the pictures out of films and it just comes from my gut. With time, however, I have noticed that it is often a moment when people forget the camera and thus become oblivious (selbstvergessen).
Ofir: Could you say what it is about an image that calls your attention? And once it does – what would you do with it? Is it the pleasure of looking at it? Digesting it?
Tanja: That’s very well said, digesting it. I then want to become part of it and also for it to become part of me. Painting makes that possible because it is so physical.
Ofir: Pornography, Art History, how do you see the relationship between the two? Or are these one and the same thing?
Tanja: When something becomes painting, there is always a relationship to art history. Besides, I find it kind of funny that the old masters always used mythology as an alibi to paint erotic scenes. And it might be that I use porn as an alibi to paint mythological scenes.
Ofir: Your palette is quit steady, how would you describe your color choices? Is it a screen, a curtain? Fantasy?
Tanja: I stay very close to nature with my choice of colors, or to what I see. It appeals to me more to be only slightly “next to” the colors I see, there’s alienation of the palette. Skin, water surfaces and leaves already offer so many colors if you look closely. Fantasy also plays a role, but I try to keep it subtle when it comes to the palette.
Ofir: Are you comfortable with these images? Or are they meant to provoke? To criticize? To stimulate? To give pleasure? Sheer beauty and harmony?
Tanja: This started with an experiment – I asked myself what happens when I paint porn? What kind of human image do we actually see there? I’m not against it in principle, but the more I looked at it, the less I agreed with it and wondered if painting would make a different view possible. Provocation has never interested me, I’m too romantic for that.
Ofir: Is it something obscene or pure that where looking at?
Tanja: Eroticism and sexuality are something natural and I wish everyone to be happy with it.
Ofir: Would you be able to name the objective of your painting?
Tanja: My female view of eroticism and sexuality, human relationships and our natural origin.
Images from Tanja Selzer’s exhibition at Framed Berlin, 2022 – Pictures by Katha Mau