Petra Trenkel, Opposite, 2006

Petra Trenkel

Petra Trenkel is an artist from Berlin who makes paintings and drawings that depict the way contemporary architecture interacts with its natural surroundings. Trenkel’s work, modestly scaled and built up from thin washes of oil paint, portrays functional structures: office parks, apartment complexes, row housing, and small-scale commercial or industrial buildings. These plain structures show little in the way of ornament and few signs of human presence. Their facades tend toward the bland and featureless. Trenkel often sets her buildings in minimally adorned landscapes, sometimes expressed as a wide swath of empty space. Here or there a tree may appear—or a bench, or a light pole. In these unoccupied zones, shadows elongate and light reaches to create subtle gradations of color. A sense of stillness seems to hover over the paintings.

For her exhibition at the Locker Plant in May, Trenkel showed a series of paintings made during her stay in Marfa. In them, familiar Marfa buildings were rendered unfamiliar—shorn of ornament, stripped of their names, subtly altered to emphasize the way in which their low-lying, block-like forms absorb the brilliant West Texas sunlight.

Petra Trenkel studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 1988 through 1995. She has exhibited her work in group and solo shows at the Galerie Martina Detterer in Frankfurt am Main; WBD and the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin; and at the Museu de Arte da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil. In 2005 she received a year-long artist’s residency in London from the Hessische Kulturstiflung. Trenkel lives and works in Berlin.