Gallery visit: Albertina, Wien

14 April 2017. After a long year without major events regarding the viewing of original art we finally made it to Vienna on April 12, on the one hand in order to prepare an exhibition of my own political caricatures in Groß-Enzersdorf near Vienna (Kunst.Lokal, 2017), on the one hand to see the graphical work of one of my all-time favourite artists, Egon Schiele (*1890-1918, Austria) (Albertina, 2017). The commemorative presentation was meticulous, extensive and drained me of all my energy, something I had never experienced before. Seeing his gouaches and pencil drawings I noticed a threefold split in my respective reactions: a magnetic attraction to most of his works, a strong repulsion occurring with some due to the worrying approach to some subjects chosen by him (naked children in highly unchildlike poses) and a weird indifference regarding the commissioned work following his abrupt rise to world fame immediately before his tragic premature death caused by the Spanish Flu.
In this post I want to concentrate on his outstanding loose drawing and painting techniques, though. No matter how closely I look at his drawings, no exaggeration of body features his style is so famous for seems out of place or out of proportion. Schiele like I think no other painter before and to date after him had an innate infallible sixth sense and uncanny ability to feel and depict the human body and its emotional state. Vara (2009) describes that his viewing position from above – which, surprisingly, seems to have been a novelty at the time – and the extreme foreshortening ensuing from that helped him to draw persons in a distorted way while in fact having correct proportions. The very same effect allowed Schiele to address one of his major concerns, the brevity and frailty of human life. As I hop between looking at the above website and continuing to write this post I realise a strange connection my mind has just made between Schiele’s compositions and Ötzi, the famous stone-age mummy found in the Tyrolean Alps in 1991. I know Ötzi’s characteristics well from an exhibition I curated many years ago at the science museum I used to work for. The connection is so weird, because the extremely well-preserved mummy in its famous distorted position, facial expression and skin colour could have been painted by Schiele without much adaptation (Gostner, 2011) and also because it could not have been a better example for Schiele’s interest in the frailty of human life:

iceman_v2
Samadelli, M. (n.d.) “Iceman”. Source: EURAC Research, Bolzano.

Particularly impressed I was at a series of drawings, which Schiele made on what looks like baking parchment with a very smooth, glossy surface. On this support he was able to paint with gouache in a way which I had discovered for myself during this course using highly diluted acrylics on an acrylics background (Lacher-Bryk, 2016). Look at the self-portrait below for the technique I described just now and also at its posture – its resemblance to Ötzi is almost unbelievable:

Self-Portrait_MET_DP279450
Egon Schiele (1911): “Self-Portrait”. Source: Egon Schiele (1890-1918) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons
I love the composition, the almost sleepwalking confidence in drawing, mixing and placing colour. In my new course I started a few weeks ago (UPM) I will try and experiment with using what I think were Schiele’s techniques.

Since we had desperately little time at our hands, we had a far too short look at the permanent exhibition “Monet to Picasso” (Albertina, 2017), where I met some of my other favourite painters. I was extremely drawn to the atmosphere in Emil Nolde’s (1867-1956, Duchy of Schleswig) “Moonlit Night” (Nolde, 1914), the humour streaming from Picasso’s work, from drawings to a series of painted plates (Albertina, 2017), and the wonderful choice of colours in “Winter Landscape” painted by Edvard Munch in 1915. It was a good feeling to be able to recognize almost all the painters in the Albertina and I notice an increasingly focused appreciation for their respective merits. Two years ago I would not have thought this possible.

References:

Albertina (2017) Current Exhibitions. Egon Schiele [online]. Albertina, Vienna. Available from: http://www.albertina.at/en/exhibitions/current?ausstellungen_id=1455214727106&j-cc-item=ausstellungen&j-cc-id=1455214727106&j-cc-node=item [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Gostner, P., Pernter, P. Bonatti, G., Graefen, A. and Zink, A.R. (2011) ‘New radiological insights into the life and death of the Tyrolean Iceman’ [abstract] [online]. Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 38, Issue 12, December 2011, pp. 3425–343. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440311002731 [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Kunst.Lokal (2017) Veranstaltungen [online]. Kunst.Lokal, Groß-Enzersdorf. Available from: http://www.kunst-lokal.at/ [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Part 4, project 5, exercise 1: Working from drawings and photographs – painting from a working drawing [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 Blog. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/part-4-project-5-exercise-1-working-from-drawings-and-photographs-painting-from-a-working-drawing/ [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Munch, E. (2015) Winter Landscape [oil on canvas] [online]. Albertina, Wien. Available from: http://www.albertina.at/jart/prj3/albertina/images/cache/a5e12d883dae5f3129eae1d3236f27e3/0x6CEAD10536343B3397EC0061E471E393.jpeg [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Nolde, E. (1914) Monnlit Night [oil on canvas] [online]. Albertina, Wien. Available from: http://www.albertina.at/jart/prj3/albertina/images/cache/033d83f67647857cdfda1a6014e5607b/0xA5A2F44F78EDA9251E01FF9439C37A32.jpeg [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Samadelli, M. (n.d.) Iceman [photo] [online]. EURAC Research, Bolzano. Available from: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2013/10/16/living-relatives-of-otzi-the-iceman-mummy-found-in-austria/#.WPCaK46kJR4 [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Schiele, E. (1911) Self-Portrait [watercolour, gouache and graphite on paper] [online]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Available from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Self-Portrait_MET_DP279450.jpg [Accessed 14 April 2017]

Vara, S. (2009) Egon Schiele (1890-1918) [blog] [online]. Duke University, Durham. Available from: http://drawingatduke.blogspot.co.at/2009/12/egon-schiele-1890-1918.html [Accessed 14 April 2017]

 

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Gallery visit: Arik Brauer and Alexander Timofeev in the Weihergut gallery

Updated on 7 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

4 August 2016. On 1 August we had an appoinment with our new lawyer in town. Since it is rare for us to be in the city centre at all, we took the opportunity to visit the Weihergut gallery (Galerie Weihergut Linzergasse, 2016). There were two painters on show, who could not be more different. One of them was the multi-talented Viennese phantastic realist Arik Brauer (*1929, Austria). Brauer is an important part of my childhood memories. My parents had one or two records by him in their cupboard and I still love the colourful cover paintings and the wonderfully sensitive songs, all painted, written and performed by him. For his unique style, closely related to that of the old masters, see a series of paintings on display in the Leopold Museum in Vienna, where his work is described in the following way: “… he cultivated a style that was to once again capture the imagination and accommodate the art of storytelling and joy of invention” (2).

The other one was Alexander Timofeev (*1971, St. Petersburgh) (3), whose approach ties in with black romanticism (using techniques intended to produce a frightening atmosphere). In preparation of a series of paintings Timofeev creates sceneries with actors and costumes, takes several super high resolution photographs and paints from those. The resulting hyperrealistic erotic oil paintings are of incredible detail and accuracy, radiating a great talent for conceptualizing and arranging, but the sheer number of large-scale paintings produced in 2016 and already on display in our gallery makes me wonder how he does it. I have to admit that I feel uncomfortable around hyperrealism, no matter how technically proficient.

References:

Galerie Weihergut Linzergasse (2016) Galerie Weihergut Linzergasse [online]. Galerie Weihergut Linzergasse, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.weihergut-linzergasse.at/ [Accessed 4 August 2016]

 

  1. http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/59/arik-brauer
  2. http://www.bleaq.com/2015/alexander-timofeev

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]

Study visit: Carolee Schneemann and a bout of sickness

Updated on 18 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

21 February, 2016. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to visit art museums and galleries, but we had been given this weekend off by my sister-in-law and since at the same we are living through the quiet before the final hospital showdown we decided that we would finally take the opportunity and visit the “Museum der Moderne” in Salzburg.
I had been passing by posters announcing a new exhibition called “Kinetic Painting” featuring the American artist Carolee Schneemann for a while, when taking my son to his special school. Since I quite liked the lively photograph on the poster and in my naive way was curious look behind the term “kinetic painting” I was in no way prepared for the experience.
Carolee Schneemann (*1939) first trained as a painter in a traditional way, but met with open and ongoing hostility by the all-male art education and establishment of the late 1950s. She reacted, not just but mostly, with an explosion of sexually explicit film-making, which from then on would dominate her life as an artist. Not surprisingly for the time and including up to the present, she was not always received with open arms (Museum der Moderne, 2014).
I can understand and appreciate that her actions must have helped prepare public and private minds for more gender equality, but I am at odds with myself over the art in her work. At the risk of being called backward I have to admit that never before today I have left an exhibition feeling physically sick. Apart from not wanting to see many of the exhibits I guess that the experience made me also feel totally inadequate as an artist. Why, for all the world, is it necessary to cause disgust before anyone will take notice of what you have to say? What is a series of 8 (or more, can’t remember) blood-stained sanitary towels in a wooden frame, behind glass, in a museum, with a clever text panel written by an art historian explaining the contents? Who declared this fierce statement uttered by a severely hurt woman a work of art? I don’t believe for a second it was Carolee Schneemann’s doing and I don’t want to speculate how this has come about. It seems that artists – for a common lack of courage in our political leaders – get pushed to the front, and get paid with fame for the dirty work of breaking accepted standards and initiating development. It is very likely true that some artists are willing to join the game, but I am convinced that the majority, male or female, are not. I call this system sickening and this is why this exhibition made me feel sick.
Not surprisingly there were no brush marks to be detected I wanted to learn about, but I left with the conviction that such dearly bought fame bears no attraction for me.

References:

Museum der Moderne (2014) Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting [online]. Museum der Moderne, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.museumdermoderne.at/en/exhibitions/current/details/mdm/carolee-schneemann/ [Accessed 18 February 2017]

Paint and Hope

5 February, 2016. Having posted my assessment materials for Drawing 1 a mere 3 weeks ago (link to my Drawing 1 blog: https://andreabrykoca.wordpress.com/), I thought that I would enjoy a break. But not so. I developed bad withdrawal symptoms and so here I am. Enrolled on Painting 1 and looking forward to the new experience. I intend to continue where I left my other blog and this means writing about hope now and then.
In Austria kids break off school for their “Semester” holidays in February. Today little son received his Semester school report and he is immensely proud it is all A’s. Considering his devastating condition this is by no means natural and it makes me both happy and sad. All we can do is hope that he will not deteriorate too fast before he can grow out of his threatening “status epilepticus” or medication stops working.
Since I noticed how much strength I gained from doing Drawing 1 for the fight for our son that is lying ahead of us, I guess that my withdrawal symptoms are directly connected. So this is what I do: paint and hope. Let’s get started!

14 February 2017. I have just started my new course Painting 1 – Understanding Painting media while working towards July 2017 assessment for the present course. If you would like to continue following me on my journey with the OCA, here is the link to Understanding Painting Media. Hope to see you there!