After Glow

by Jonas Hauert
January 2024

In After Glow, Nadja Kirschgarten exhibits brand new paintings produced during and after a long residency in Cairo, Egypt. Infused with an energy of longing born in this constantly shifting city, the canvases are inhabited by blown-up specters – the memories of tender silhouettes met on the bridges, or behind the dunes.
The desert constantly seeps into Cairo. The spring visits of the khamseen - the wind coming from the Sahara - leave the city with a persistent layer of dust. It infiltrates everything, sparing only the expensive imported cars under their tailored dresses of striped linen. The muted tones of dust are the uniting element of the chaotic metropolis, a dirty afterglow of its confrontation with the desert.

To fight this dusty entropy, millions of people repeat sweeping gestures across the city. The ubiquitous street sweeper, the taxi driver caressing the hood of his car, the coffee shop boy throwing water on the sidewalk, or the stray cat licking his fur on a bed of dry leaves. In the middle of it, Nadja and I shared a studio, painting side by side. With our wet brushes, we belonged a bit to this community, stroking the canvas, trying to keep the colors alive.

Escaping the contagious insanity this metropolis of absurdity through art, we worked a lot. I had never really painted before, so I asked Nadja for help. « How do you do it? What's the trick? » Painting, she told me, was just like playing sudoku – the toughest grid ever. To paint was to solve a shape-shifting puzzle: you had to take risks – try again, fail better, and destroy the solution if it looked too easy. The paintings of Nadja Kirschgarten are beautifully simple solutions to impossibly hard problems.