Rebekka Steiger


ma quỷ vô đồng tử


Acrylic ink and tempera on canvas

200 x 150 cm

Ghosts are ever-present in Vietnam, where Rebekka Steiger lived and worked for seven months during her residency in Ho Chi Minh City between 2022 and 2023. Out of respect and curiosity for the local traditions of veneering the dead and belief in animism, Steiger sought the assistance of her Vietnamese teacher to undertake a house-inauguration ceremony when she moved into her new home, with the goal of keeping “ma quỷ” – homeless ghosts turned demonic – from haunting the neighborhood. Regarding the depiction of figures, there exists a widespread belief in Asia: as long as it bears no pupils, the image of a “ma quỷremains just that, an image. The title of this work is thus less a description of content than a precautionary measure: by denying the painted ghosts their realness, any potential harm caused by them is hopefully prevented. 
In Steiger’s previous works, figures were largely absent. Working solely with ink and water the fluidity of the paint itself made detailed figurative content neigh on impossible. With her work from Vietnam, the artist picks up on these flowing, color merging ink-landscapes, but re-introduces her figures and bestiary as focal points into the paintings. The thicker acrylic ink the artist discovered in Ho Chi Minh City could both be used very fluid when diluted and viscous when not. This property allowed for creating more defined shapes even on very wet canvas. 
(Edited from excerpts provided by Galerie Urs Meile Lucerne)