Frieda Toranzo Jaeger paints under the long shadow of art history, all the while propelling us towards a yet-to-be-determined future. Iconographically rich, her subjects and scenes are often lifted directly from 14th and 15th century European paintings—from bacchanal gatherings to female figures in lush regalia. They repopulate Toranzo Jaeger’s tableaus cloaked in a new embellishment, often literally ornamented with eyelets, jewels, and embroidery deftly woven by the artist’s family, and afforded new possibilities for queer desire, unthwarted by colonial strategies.
Automobiles figure as prominently as spaceships, machinery is embedded into her compositions like engines driving forward her layered narratives. Toranzo Jaeger’s paintings are frequently modular, and her adjoined canvases invite us not simply to look; they beckon our physical entry into dense realms, hinging open and scaled proportionally to our bodies. Winged paintings resemble books or altars—texts necessitating investigative scanning, so that the time of viewing recalls the unhurried pace of making.
In 2021, Toranzo Jaeger was commissioned to occupy the rotunda of the Baltimore Museum of Art. The resultant work The Perpetual Sense of Redness, is an epic polygonic construct wherein each side elaborates a new proposition in world-building. Of this novel form, Toranzo Jaeger says, “I am borrowing pre-Colombian compositions, which are often round and expand from the center. So it is more of a cosmology of different interior worlds, places where we dream.”
The following year, in 2022, Toranzo Jaeger was awarded the Finkenwerder Prize for recent graduates at her alma mater, Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, where she studied under Jutta Koether. “I came to understand the power of painting from the women who taught me: instead of wanting recognition from the male critics of their generation, they created their own system of critique and validation, which was so inspiring.”
This past year, MoMA PS1 hosted Toranzo Jaeger’s first institutional solo show in New York, Autonomous Drive. The exhibition, curated by Ruba Katrib, Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs at MoMA PS1, brought together over a dozen recent paintings, along with three new commissions. Examining her recurring themes of western advancement, from origin myths to technological feats, Toranzo Jaeger’s paintings put into question our investment in linear drives, accelerating instead in multilateral direction.
Frieda Toranzo Jaeger (b. 1988, Mexico City) lives and works in Mexico City. Following a BA in Fine Art at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, Toranzo Jaeger pursued an MFA at the same institution. Her work was the subject of a recent solo survey exhibition at MoMA PS1, Queens. She has had solo exhibitions at the HFBK, Hamburg; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin; and Reena Spaulings, New York. Her work has recently been included in exhibitions at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; BALTIC, Gateshead, United Kingdom; Frac Lorraine, Metz, France; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; and MoMA Warsaw, Poland. A major installation by Toranzo Jaeger was recently acquired by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. In 2024, Toranzo Jaeger will be included in La Biennale di Venezia, Foreigners Everywhere, the 60th International Art Exhibition, curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Her first European solo museum exhibition will open at Modern Art Oxford in March.