Artist Jana Euler Brings Her Phallic Sharks to New York

Published February 20, 2020

“GWF 2,” 2019. Photos by Diana Pfammatter. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin.

When Artists Space, the beloved non-profit founded in a SoHo loft in 1972, opened its swanky new headquarters in TriBeCa late last year, the curators could have picked any artist to christen the venue. The choice of who to include was easy—even if they still aren’t sure what she’s going to include. “She has slightly embargoed us,” says the gallery’s curator Jamie Stevens, who, along with Executive Director Jay Sanders, tapped the 37-year-old German painter Jana Euler for an exhibition that opened late last month. If Euler’s name isn’t already familiar on this side of the Atlantic, it will be. Known for her neo-surrealist paintings of celebrities such as Ed Sheeran and Whitney Houston, Euler had her break-through with her Great White Fear show at Berlin’s Galerie Neu in April of last year. A series of eight large-scale oil and acrylic paintings depicted great white sharks leaping out of the water, their bodies shaped unambiguously like penises. Are they symbols of unhinged toxic masculinity? Or a celebration of insatiable sexual appetites? Sanders describes Euler as “one of the most thoughtful, sophisticated, conceptually driven practitioners dealing with the history of painting and also what painting is in contemporary society.” As a counter to the art-as-JPEG-attachment approach to showing work, Euler is sensitive to the environments where her work is presented, which makes her show in the newly designed rooms of Artists Space that much more compelling. Case in point: she made two site visits to New York before the gallery was even finished being built.

“GWF 5,” 2019.

This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Interview Magazine. Subscribe here.