English summary February 4 - 10

Kunsthalle Exnergasse: Egypted Furor and Order In the group exhibit "Egypted" long-gone advertising labels of branded articles stuck on lacquered wood are displayed in Michaela Eichwald's murals "Stay Tuned". No matter if they advertise a mocha-liqueur or the former German capital Bonn, what they have in common is the sunken utopias of an optimistic 20th century future-believing society. "Egypted" is a word created by the curator Will Benedict. He purposely wants to leave the onlooker in the dark with his sphinx-like information policy. But Claude Cahun's surrealistic photo series "Je tend les bras" (1931) could be seen as the key to the exhibit. It vaguely reminds of the ancient Egyptian gesticulation of two women's arms, whose bodies are captured in stone. The majority of the other contributions are involved with social classification and sedimentation as well as an increasingly contradictory understanding of Modernism: Wolfgang Breuer's industrial perforated metal plates, all scarred by scratches and rust, making the dialectic of undaunted belief in the future and decay visible. Mark Leckey's example of art in public places not only clearly show internal trends between figuration and abstraction, but also sharpens the eye for artistic aberrations and obsolete aesthetic concepts of the last decades. Benedict, an artist himself, proved his individuality by displaying a conglomeration of difficult artistic positions ranging from "stars" like Richard Artschwager to newcomers. Kunsthalle Exnergasse 1090 Wien, Währinger Strasse 59, until 01.03.08 www.kunsthalle.wuk.at Old Master of Modern Art Hans Staudaucher on the occasion of his 85th birthday at the Galleries Hilger and Gerersdorfer One thing has to be made clear beforehand: both exhibits do not show anything new. But that expectation would have been wrong anyway - the exhibits are meant to be a tribute to this still surprisingly vital grand master of Art Informel in Austria. His abstract expressive work, which invariably conveys a strong vitality and intensity are unmistakable and unique in the Austrian as well as the international art world. This has nothing to do with intellectual claims, but with the immediate and direct expression – these being Staudacher's strengths. Hans Staudacher found his way to abstract art long before it was standard to create abstract art in Vienna. Both of these exhibits are a tribute to how he has enriched the world of painting in Austria, and offer the rare opportunity to admire and compare the master's work over the last four decades. His works from the 1960's are still his most impressive – an era in which his oeuvre was rebellious and innovative. Formally his more recent work does not differ from the older pieces, but it is no longer part of the art scene-genesis. It is art that distinctly communicates that it evolved out of a stringent inner imperative. Nothing may infringe this attraction, even if the same conservative mediocre featherbrains, who only a few decades ago denied this art a right to exist, now consider it a status symbol. That is exactly why one should not miss the opportunity to see both exhibits. Galerie Ernst Hilger, until 21.02.08 Dorotheergasse 5, 1010 Vienna www.hilger.at Galerie Gerersdorfer, until 01.03.08 Währinger Strasse 12, 1090 Vienna www.kunstnet.at/gerersdorfer Gabriele Senn Galerie, Galerie Bleich-Rossi: Josephyne Pryde, Sarah Staton – Mother and Her House. Josephyne Pryde, Sarah Staton – Sex Where we meet Josephyne Pryde and Sarah Staton, two British artists who have been friends since childhood, are currently both exhibiting their work in two Galleries in Vienna. Gallery Bleich-Rossi displays their oeuvre dealing with motherhood and home, while the Gallery Senn shows their artistic feministic identity titled "Sex". Josephine Pryde stages her at times somewhat blurred black and white photographs made in 2007/08 with female models in front of flowery panels triggering emotions such as "frustration", "rebellion" and "satisfaction". For these women freedom of thought as well as freedom of action are extremely limited. Pryde's work refers to the images of motherhood and femininity of the 60s, which she herself experienced as a middle-class family child in the UK. How strongly this traditional mother-role and the resulting revolution shaped the process of self-discovery as a female artist, is not only clear through her communicative work, but also through Ellen Cantor's poem "my future wife". The poem embraces the work of both artists; and is available at each of the exhibits designed like a playing card. It brutally fights off the memory of the old mother and creates the image of a new mother who is cool, sexy, loving, and wearing a push-up bra. Sarah Staton adapted the topic with wooden sculptures and boards in varying heights, all set on arched pedestals. They resemble rustic tables and allude to the frequently asked question in the UK: to which extent does modern art undermine British values? The tables are also meant to symbolize family life as well as its decay. At the exhibit in the Gallery Senn, Pryde's photos show make-up balls exploding in the air and playfully approach idealistic female beauty. Industrial beauty products and messages are sensually re-interpreted by the artist. Sarah Staton' work shows small wavy lines painted onto denim. These are meant to be abstractions of telephone doodles, as girl friends in the 80s would absentmindedly scribble them onto any surface, while gossiping with one another on the phone. The matching Bang & Olufsen telephone is printed on invitations for both exhibits. Gabriele Senn Galerie 1040 Vienna, Schleifmühlgasse 1a, until 29.02.08 www.galeriesenn.at Galerie Bleich-Rossi 1010 Vienna, Dominikanerbastei 19, until 29.02.08 www.bleich-rossi.at Galeria Grita Insam: Peter Sandbichler Repetitive Systems Peter Sandbichler's most recent sculptures are currently on display at the Gallery Grita Insam. While everyday objects such as coat stands or lockers, which were transformed into crystalline floating bodies ("Tensegrities"), constituted parts of his early works, he now shows sculptures coupled with controversial political topics. In the entrance area of the exhibit you will come across a nearly 3m high relief of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Peace Nobel Prize winner. She is the leader of the Democratic National Party and, except for some short interruptions, the Burmese military junta has kept her under house arrest for the past 12 years. Sandbichler generated her portrait from nine lacquered metal shelves, into which he hammered her facial features. A much more fragmented notion develops when Sandbichler reassembles the boards into shelves – as he does with the portrait of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaja, who was murdered in 2006. The artist criticises the entire global community for their oblivion and inactivity - especially when human rights activists have paid with their lives for their commitment. Sandbichler proves his reverence with these large-scale sculptures, in which he hammers their facial features not only into metal but also into our conscience. As a contemplative contrast to Sandbichler's disturbing political pieces of art, Grita Insam also displays the artist's modular systems, such as his plywood and resin objects. Gallery Grita Insam 1010 Wien, An der Hülben 3, until 23.02.08 www.galeriegritainsam.at

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