The large-scale, powerful portraits of Austrian artist Claudia Mayer-Mallenau combine a strong sense of composition with an almost unsettling ability to reveal the many internal layers of the subject. While her images are modern in scope and execution, she ascribes to the tradition whereby a portrait tells a story: both of where the person has come from and of the emotional experience that has guided that person’s interaction with the world. In each work, she masterfully uses color, form, and texture to convey strong emotions and a decidedly expressionist bent.
Working in a collage format, Mayer-Mallenau combines charcoal, acrylics, scrape knifes, and tiny magazine clippings to form complex, highly textural alternate realities that truly allow the viewer to get a glimpse of the subject’s soul. Indeed, for Mayer-Mallenau, the technique becomes part of the overall meaning and context of her work: where the impression of a holistic portraiture dissolves upon closer look into the realization that the picture is composed of many, many tiny pieces. As Mayer-Mallenau says, “There is always a second truth, always two sides of just one coin.