Upstairs Gallery: Andrew Woolbright & Gitte Maria Möller

A dreaming hand, wounded by thorns

November 11, 2023 - January 6, 2024

Press Release

Andrew Woolbright & Gitte Maria Möller
A dreaming hand wounded by thorns
November 11, 2023 - January 6, 2024
Opening Reception: Saturday, November 11, 6 - 8 pm
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present A dreaming hand wounded by thorns, a two person exhibition featuring new and recent work by artists Gitte Maria Möller (b. 1991, Cape Town, South Africa) and Andrew Woolbright (b. 1986, Springfield, IL).
Throughout the exhibition both artists interpret the aesthetics and temporality of the digital realm while grounding their works in personal experience and art historical references. Möller and Woolbright both perform and re-perform visual languages that range from images of cherished memory to speculations on the future, stasis and speed, and the fidelity of image and circulation, to speak to our unique moment which seems to place equal value on physical presence and virtual worlds.
Gitte Maria Möller works across a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, digital media, drawing and collage. Much of her work speaks to her childhood growing up in 1990’s Cape Town suburbia: conservative, church- going and isolated, yet converging with a powerful moment in the globalization of culture through the internet. In this body of oil paintings on panel, Möller focuses on the central imagery of courtyards and gardens, inspired by Medieval and Early Renaissance paintings. Möller transports these staid motifs through an opalescent color palette reminiscent of holographic trading cards and a stylistic aesthetic which resembles the modular and cubic scenery of early video games. Each composition contains small, personal talismans based on physical objects that Möller has collected over time. Silhouetted My Little Pony characters, fairy creatures and other toy-like figures recur, harkening back to the artist’s childhood. The paintings suggest an interiority through the brick walls and golden gates which frame each composition. These confines seem to also define the artist’s cerebral capacity for memory and emotion.
In conversation with the paintings, Möller presents hanging sculptural objects which she refers to as charms. Small plexiglass panels containing digitally transferred drawings are adorned with silver chains and precious charms, like cut-crystal hearts, metal bows and bells. Within the context of the gallery, these objects take on the weight of contemporary religious relics, imbued with protective qualities. They are more sophisticated versions of the light catchers Möller made with her mother when she was a young girl, then crafted from aluminum foil, gut, sequins and glitter glue. Möller regards her paintings in a similar light, as giant amulets or playing cards, imbued with power from a realm flickering between the real and the imagined.
Andrew Woolbright’s work updates the hybridized figuration of Renaissance grotesques to respond to digital identity and the mediated experiences of being online. Reflecting on body drift and our complex experiences as material- informational entities, he depicts bodies confused with virtual space, stock imagery, and the imagery of dreams. Since a fire destroyed his studio and his life’s work three years ago, he has been painting bodies comprised of blended projections of arresting images that imply impermanence, using the surfaces of each painting as harddrives; to process the overwhelming sensory experience of digital and virtual inputs one receives in a single day. 


Such items range from prize-winning sandcastles to the packaging of sexual enhancement drugs prominently on display behind gas station register counters. The composite figures become allegorical through their associations. Their skin, when they have it, is produced from the building and erasing of projected images that he saves in his archive–forming reticular and neuromanced bodies that imply an ability to self-engineer as responses to the endless scroll of devices and information. They are ethereal and translucent bodies of projection and accumulation that reflect the images they absorb.
His most recent work collects images from the genre of Homo Bulla painting, where the image of figures as a bubble functions as a visual technology of memento mori. Woolbright also incorporates logos from financial consulting firms, cameras and phones, and product packaging, layering the vernacular imagery of contemporary society into his deeply complex visual language.
In addition, some of the largest canvases are extended through artist-made frames created from molds of harddrive parts. The frames serve as punctuation, amplifying and manifesting the intangible ideas suggested throughout the paintings. In addition to the harddrive parts, Woolbright also surrounds certain works with plexiglass and prints of his reference images, adding further context and assigning a mysterious sense of hierarchy and hinting at a parallel system of value throughout the series.
Andrew Paul Woolbright (b. 1986, Springfield, IL) received his MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Galerie Valeria Cetraro, Paris, FR; ADA Gallery, Richmond, VA; Yellow Peril Gallery, Providence, RI; and the University of Illinois. Springfield, IL. Recent group exhibitions include Hesse Flatow, New York, NY; DeBoer Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Microscope Gallery, New York, NY; The Hole, New York, NY; Zürcher Gallery, New York, NY; Wallplay, New York, NY; Coherent, Brussels, Belgium; Monaco, St. Louis, MO; and Baby Blue Gallery. Chicago, IL. Recent curatorial projects include The Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY; Super Dutchess, New York, NY; Baby Blue Gallery, Chicago, IL; and Yellow Peril Gallery, Providence, RI. He has been an artist-in-residence at Wassaic Project Residency, Wassaic, NY; Greenwoods 2058 Artist Residency, Norfolk, CT; and Sharpe Walentas Studio Residency, Brooklyn, NY. Woolbright’s work is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Woolbright currently lives and works in New York.
Gitte Maria Möller (b. 1991, Cape Town, South Africa) received her BFA from the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art. Recent solo and two person exhibitions include Smith Studio, Cape Town, South Africa; and the Turbine Art Fair with Barnard Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa. Recent group exhibitions include NADA Flea Market, New York, NY; Romance, Pittsburgh, PA; Galerie Eigen+Art, Cape Town, South Africa; A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa; WAF Galerie, Vienna, Austria; June, Berlin, Germany; The Fourth, Cape Town, South Africa; Gallery De-Move-On, Cape Town, South Africa; RK Gallery, Riebeeck Kasteel, South Africa; and Eclectica Print Gallery, Cape Town. Möller received the Judy Steinberg Painting Prize from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2015, and has been an artist-in-residence at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Her work is in the collection of the University of Cape Town. Möller lives and works in Cape Town.


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Andrew Woolbright and Gitte Maria Möller's A dreaming hand wounded by thorns featured in Two Coats of Paint's "NYC Selected Gallery Guide: Dec 2023" 

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Gitte Maria Möller interviewed in i-D Magazine's "Gitte Maria Möller's abstract paintings are infused with 90s nostalgia"

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Andrew Woolbright and Gitte Maria Möller in conversation with Tom McGlynn for Brooklyn Rail's "New Social Enviornment"