Study visit: Gallery tour in Salzburg

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 March, 2016. Last week we cycled into town to see the exhibitions presented in some of Salzburg’s galleries. One I had wanted to see in particular, the 20 year anniversary exhibition on Bernhard Vogel (*1964, Austria) on show at the Galerie Weihergut. Getting there we found the show room closed, since the gallery staff had gone to present their collection at a large art fair in Vienna. So we changed our plans and first had a look at the Lumas gallery, a dealer in high quality photo art reproductions. I particularly liked the work by Matthew Cusick (*1970, USA), who specialises in collage-like delicate “paintings” made of carefully chosen clippings taken from different maps of the world, e.g. “Mylan’s Wave” (Cusick, 2012).
Most impressive at the same place was a 1.5 x 2 m photo, “Urban Landscape V” (Bakonyi, 2013/14) by Bence Bakonyi (*1991, Hungary) showing a number of floors on two of Hong Kong’s giant skyscrapers. The, by the standards of Austria and probably most parts of the world, incredible density of urban space, left me bewildered at the number of individual fates and stories told and the weird attraction created by the almost, but not quite, repetitive pattern. The owner of the shop reported an occasion, where a lady had spent some time looking at that particular photo. When asked for her opinion about it, she told him “I just spotted my flat.” Years earlier, she had actually been living in one of the diminutive dwellings. What a coincidence.
The overwhelming number of phantastic photos resembling paintings reminded me that any former boundaries between the two forms of art are no longer existent. They are mutually fertilizing, allowing artists coming from each side to make use of all the available achievements and new developments. And also, the quality standards are breathtaking – reminding me harshly that there is a long road ahead of me.
Having spent a lot more time at the Lumas gallery than initially planned there was only one more place to have a quick look at before they all closed for the weekend. One of Salzburg’s most internationally renowned galleries presented works by Herbert Stejskal and Eva Möseneder. Stejskal’s (1940-2012, Austria) abstract paintings, watercolour and acrylics, reminded me of the intuitive “energy” paintings, which are at the moment extremely popular in Austria. I was fascinated by one peculiarity: Stejskal breaks up the canvas into many “sub-canvases”, each with its own style (sometimes photographic, sometimes reminding of different printing techniques), but at the same time never leaving a doubt that each is part of a whole. Energy appears to flow between the parts by the way they are arranged in shape and colour. See e.g. the aptly named LAVA (Stejskal, 2003) or CROLLO (Stejskal, 1987).
Eva Möseneder’s (*1957, Austria) series of small paintings showing vividly coloured potted and other imaginary plants appeared to me like clippings from larger works by phantastic realists including Arik Brauer (*1929, Austria), see e.g. “The Flower of Chernobyl” (Brauer, 1996/97) or Wolfgang Hutter (1928-2014, Austria), e.g. “Die braunen Blätterpflanzen mit den blauen Kugeln” (Hutter, 2004). While Möseneder’s choice of colours is most attractive and the plants appear to glow from the inside, at least to me they are strangely lacking in aliveness. This may of course be a deliberate effect, but it makes me wonder what it is exactly that makes Stejskal’s abstract paintings burst with energy, while the living things depicted by Möseneder do not. I had another close look at them and they seem to refuse to communicate, content to live their own strange plant life, whose emotions we will never be able to understand. It also makes me wonder whether the refusal of a work of art to interact with the viewer may well be another way of attracting attention.

References:

Bakonyi, B. (2013-2014) Urban Landscape V [photograph] [online]. Lumas Gallery, Salzburg. Available at: https://at.lumas.com/pictures/bence_bakonyi/urban_landscape_v/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Brauer, A. (1996-97) The Flower of Chernobyl [n.a] [online]. Leopold Museum, Vienna. Available at: http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/59/arik-brauer [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Cusick, M. (2012) Mylan’s Wave [collage] [online]. Lumas Gallery, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.lumas.com/pictures/matthew_cusick/mylans_wave/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Hutter, W. (2004) Die braunen Blätterpflanzen mit den blauen Kugeln [n.a.] [online]. [n.a.]. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92398751@N00/11445286/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Stejskal, H. (1987) LAVA [watercolours and transferred media on paper] [online]. Galerie Welz, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.galerie-welz.at/de/ausstellungen/ausstellungen_archiv_detail.php?id=77 [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Stejskal, H. (2003) CROLLO [acrylics on canvas] [online]. Galerie Welz, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.galerie-welz.at/de/ausstellungen/ausstellungen_archiv_detail.php?id=77 [Accessed 19 February 2017]

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