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Messua Wolff

Messua’s work starts in nature and is literally “encapsulated” in her paintings through materials. Hortus Conclusus started in the urban wildness of her garden, where all colours are homegrown. Here “wildness” is explored in an urban environment, reinvestigating forgotten ties to plants. The title refers to the enclosed medieval garden, a place of meditation and labour. The aromatic plants used are prevalent in our everyday life and were likely cultivated in a Hortus Conclusus for food or medicinal purposes. The symbol of the enclosed garden has changed, yet keep reflecting the relationship between man and its ecosystem. This ambiguous motif is revisited in an urban context, as a space of “wildness”. This imagined garden superimposes a speculative past in the present space.


Messua explores through processes, colours, and materials ideas of alternative temporalities. Her practice is rooted in the expanded discourse of painting and experiments with archaic and domestic modes of production. She extends the process - starting by making colour or surfaces found in her surroundings. She works with dyes and experiments with everyday tints, including common weeds, spice, kitchen waste. Walking, growing, and foraging are activities embedded in the painting through traces, marks, and stains. Dyes, pigments, and inks articulate the internal logic of the painting and are at the root of her process. She explores these materials to imprint her actions, tell simultaneous stories and absorb durations. Her practice is a form of dwelling. Her paintings are the result of the improvisation between bodies, materials and milieu over time.


Currently, in her PhD in the expanded field of painting at the Royal College of Art, she investigates slowness as a creative methodology and an aesthetic of resistance in the context of acceleration. She explores the slow through materials to develop a singular and critical approach. The emphasis on laborious processes and dilated time is investigated to experience a more heterogeneous present, to disrupt our current time-compression and reconnect with our non-human surroundings.

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