João Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town
May 2008

Sanell Aggenbach’s work deals primarily with the intricate intersection of history and private narratives, by considering the process of recall and interpretation. For the past two years her focus has mainly been on found images of formal portraiture and ghostly archived negatives. In this new body of work she investigates translucent film as a medium for recounting half-truths by referencing tampered photographic film, intimate portraiture and the ever-eluding grasp of sensation. Instead of focusing on the ‘accurate’ form of photography, as a mimetic form of representation, Aggenbach prefers to contemplate paintings’ inaccurate and misleading record of reality. The tactical function of intimate photography as sensual trigger, as opposed to pragmatic rendering, becomes paramount. The paintings which form part of Sub Rosa are not depictions of individuals, but rather images of images. Distortion becomes an essential part of the process where the muffled identity of the sitter dilutes into abstraction. Although the emphasis of Sub Rosa relate to visual trickery, it is however the use of pagan references and mythologies (The Subterraneans, Easter and Helen the Heathen) which underscore the tone of the works. The spectral images offer an ambiguous open-endedness, masked in faded chemical process colour. - João Ferreira