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  • Writer's pictureCeleste Sunderland Gottfried

Cash Money, Fast Cars, and Botox: Berlin-based Swiss artist Jill Winnie Moser paints the things we long for, and explores the reasons why we want what we do

Updated: Jun 8

The artist Jill Winnie Moser was discussing one of her paintings at her solo exhibition at Python Gallery in Zurich last month when she realized for the first time, she was able to talk about her work in a way that felt right

Artist Jill Winnie Moser
Artist Jill Winnie Moser

“The conversation felt heartfelt,” explained the 25-year-old artist, dialing in from her flat in Berlin. “I feel like I was avoiding talking about my work for so long because I didn't understand it myself. Maturing into my practice has probably been one of my biggest milestones so far.”

The piece in question, titled “New Arrivals,” features two pairs of (literally) smoking-hot stiletto boots with flames, not shooting, but smoldering out of them. Moser began working on the oil painting in 2022 as a new arrival herself just finding her footing in the German capital. And the piece—while not her absolute favorite—is eye-catching in all its glossy glamor. It exemplifies the type of work the Berlin-based artist has been making a name for herself with since graduating from The University of the Arts, in Zurich.

Painting "New Arrivals", oil on canvas, 140 x 120 cm - Jill Winnie Moser
"New Arrivals", oil on canvas - Jill Winnie Moser

Canvases, rife with the kinds of fetishized objects she remembers from the hip-hop videos she watched as a kid—cash money, fast cars, and botox—form glossy, painted collages of excess and indulgence. And since she uses AI-generated images as source material for her work, the objects she’s painting aren’t even technically real. So actually, it’s all just one big shiny fantasy, which in fact, can be interpreted as a metaphor for something that is actually very real—that unattainable, unquenchable desire that comes with commercialism and consumerism, and the way these things feed our wanting for more, more, more. 

It’s something Moser wonders about. This idea that seemingly mundane objects can represent something so big, and inspire such infatuation. Take hubcaps. She’s obsessed with them. She finds them on the streets of Berlin and displays them in her studio apartment, delighting in their differences—sizes, embellishments, number of spikes—and likening them to snowflakes, each one unique.

“I started looking into why I’m so attracted to this piece of plastic, and thinking about references I may have been exposed to as a child, like on MTV, the images they zoom in on in music videos, the fast cars, the hubcaps on the cars, the sound of the cars, the feeling you get from it all, and also me fetishizing it. I don’t even have a driver’s license,” she said.

AI has proven to be a handy tool in Moser’s exploration of these questions. She uses AI to generate images that represent status and lifestyle, and once she finds something she likes, she paints it.

“AI can replicate objects into something that doesn't even exist, but looks close to something that we might know. So I'm trying these tools, and painting, to try to figure out where this stems from, and why exactly. I mean, if you melted that piece of plastic into a ball, it wouldn't cause the same effect. So it's not the material, is it the shape? Is it what it’s associated with? Or what it symbolizes? This is what comes into play in my practice.”

In contrast to all the shiny automotive metal, sleek leather, and cut crystal, Moser sometimes includes flowers in her compositions, adding a softness and femininity. Pastel petals allure in gentle tones of powder pink and lavender; a graceful magnolia blooms big, complete with piercings; a precious lily rests within a gloved hand. She once read how flowers were the first things humans fetishized and wanted, for no practical reason. “And that matches so well with every product we consume now,” she said. “It poses the question of: is there a use, or is it just for the beauty?”

Painting with man "Horsepower", oil on canvas - Jill Winnie Moser
"Horsepower", oil on canvas - Jill Winnie Moser

Her piece “Horsepower,” which was part of a group exhibition at Helmhaus in Zürich in 2022, is a portrait of Kris Jenner. Rendered with technical finesse, the Kardashian ringleader poses in an electric aquamarine satin blazer before a series of white chess pieces. She’s the queen in the consumerism machine in all its psychological power-play grandeur.

As a human, Moser herself is of course not immune to the pull of consumerism. She’s got a thing for fashion, as evidenced in her TikTok where in addition to honest, authentic clips of Berlin artist life, she shares her outfit of the day, posing on the stairwell of her apartment building in Greta Garbo trousers, long flirty skirts, and stretchy raver tops. While her hue of choice seems to be black, she always accessorizes with at least one statement piece—big silver earrings, sky-high heels, an oversized handbag.

“I see my paintings in a room where there's nothing else, they carry the room, and I think about my jewelry and my handbags the same way,” she explained. “I let one piece shine and tone down everything else. It's funny this connection. The busyness of my work goes well in a calm living room where it can be like a celebrity, you know?”

Come meet Jill Winnie Moser at Hyve Hostel June 13-15! She’s one of 8 artists exhibiting at Basel Art Summer Camp.

And follow her on TikTok and Instagram - you won't regret it!

Artist Jill Winnie Moser at the Studio
Artist Jill Winnie Moser at the Studio

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