A painting has to be seductive. There is also an ambiguity, a tension about this seduction. Vanessa Mitter is interested in the complex territories of memory and childhood, in the unborn/the ghostly and in the construction of femininity: the rites of passage, the secrets, rituals, promises and obfuscations of these. In relation to this subject matter, the paint is heavily layered, the image often washed away and then reclaimed as part of the making process. Alice Butler writes that, In Vanessa Mitter’s paintings, the personal is treated as a pliant material, a source of affect and investigation, but also of fiction and performance. Collage, paint and pigment find a way on to the canvas in ephemeral expressive gestures. There is an abject narrative at play – of lost childhood and drifting brides – but it is a narrative that wanders in and around the artifice of the material'.
In her practice, Vanessa Mitter is also informed by Julia Kristeva's writing(s) concerning the abject in relation to ideas of the feminine. 'We may call it a border; abjection is above all ambiguity. Because, while releasing a hold, it does not radically cut off the subject from what threatens it - on the contrary, abjection acknowledges it to be in perpetual danger.' (Kristeva, Powers of Horror). In her paintings, there is a sense of threat; of beauty and innocence on the edge of collapse.
Vanessa Mitter makes performances which explore confrontation, antagonism and ritual. These performances also reflect on the history of action painting and performance art. They are visceral and physically challenging. In all of her practice, she is interested in the performative and the gestural and in how these elements relate to liminal space and ritual. She seeks to destabilise the audience, forcing them to question their surroundings and their accepted modes of thinking and behaving. She asks questions about gender (taking on male and androgynous alter egos), history (the personas are sometimes from another time/era), the relationship between the viewer and the viewed or the performer and those who bear witness. It is in the live moment that fragments of the political erupt in to action.
Since Vanessa Mitter graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in September 2010, she has exhibited internationally. The galleries and project spaces she has shown at include: David Risley Gallery (Copenhagen - deKooning, deKooning, deKooning, 2011, curated by Dexter Dalwood), Carter Presents Gallery (London), Trajector Art Fair (Brussels), Galerie Deck (Stuttgart - now Strzelski Galerie), Project Space4828 (Venice -run and curated by Nicola Ruben Montini), Guest Projects (London), Schwartz Gallery (London), The Sassoon Gallery (London), Why Gallery (London), Field Project Space (London), Ambika P3 (London) and Take Courage Gallery (London).
Her paintings and drawings are held in private collections in: Stuttgart, London, Munich, Palma, Barcelona and Chicago. She was shortlisted for: 100 Painters of Tomorrow, 2013 (Beers Lambert Gallery, London. Leading to a Thames and Hudson publication of the same title), The Red Mansion Foundation Art Prize, 2011 and the GAM - Gilbert de Botton Art Prize, 2010.
An image of one of her paintings, Giving up the Ghost, was featured in April 2011's issue of Frieze magazine, along with a review of the exhibition, deKooning, deKooning, deKooning, (David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen). Other reviews of the same show appeared in various publications, including Politiken, Denmark. Other publications include the catalogue for Mitter's solo exhibition, Life Was Never Meant to be This Way at the Museu Casal de Cultura, Mallorca, an interview with Nicola Ruben Montini for Posi+tive Magazine, features in Sonnendeck art magazine and Show Time, the catalogue for Dillmann Kunstmarkt (art fair), Stuttgart.