The large, powerful portraits of Austrian artist Claudia Mayer-Mallenau present a solid 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 adheres to tradition whereby a portrait tells a story, such as where the person has come from or the emotional experiences that have shaped their interaction with the world. In each work, she masterfully combines color, form, and texture with a decidedly expressionist bent to convey strong emotions.
Working in a collage format, Mayer-Mallenau uses charcoal, acrylics, knives, and tiny magazine clippings to form complex, alternate realities that give viewers a glimpse of the subject’s soul. Indeed, for Mayer-Mallenau, style and technique become part of the overall meaning of her work: upon closer inspection, the portrait as a whole dissolves with the viewer's realization that the image comprises many, many tiny pieces. As Mayer-Mallenau says, “There is always a second truth, always two sides of just one coin."