Victoria Reichelt’s Bookshelf Paintings

Inspired by the idea that bookshelves offer a glimpse into their owner’s personal life and interests, last year Australian artist Victoria Reichelt undertook a series of oil-on-canvas paintings based on photographs of random shelves and collections of books.

"I am currently making a series of paintings based on photographs of bookshelves," writes Australian artist Victoria Reichelt. "Some paintings are portraits of Australian artists and some are random shelves and collections of books, often particularly worn, their tattered jackets reflect their long years and multiple readings."


"These works are a paradox to paint, as once the books are an image on canvas they are shut forever and can never be read," Reichelt writes. "In a painting they serve a very different purpose from their intended function—they are purely objects like any others, that have histories and narratives of their own, quite separate from the text inside them. Yet we are still drawn to that text and narrative as represented by the painting and underscored by the book jacket illustrations, titles and authors' names."

"With the invention of printing techniques that enabled the mass reproduction of books in the 19th century, came a desire for people to collect and display books. Decisions people make about the books they chose to buy, keep and display reveal a considerable amount about them."


"Conventional portraiture relies on a visual representation of the subject, through which most of the information you get is about their visual appearance. However, photographing and painting someone's bookshelf reveals another side to them and offers a deeper insight into their interests."


"When discussing bookshelves in modern day houses, Alan Powers suggests that 'they represent the extension of a personal world, whether their purpose is the active research of the scholar, the pride possession of the collector or the random acquisitiveness of the curious mind.'"


Victoria Reichelt has been shortlisted for a number of art prizes, including the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize, Conrad Jupiter's Art Prize, and the Canberra Contemporary Art Prize. Her work has been shown at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space, the the QUT Art Museum in Brisbane, the 2008 Melbourne Art Fair, and most recently at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. She is represented by the Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Melbourne, Victoria.