English summary March 16 - 22

Kunsthaus Bregenz: Markus Schinwald – Vanishing Lessons A rebellious smile The Kunsthaus Bregenz allows itself a programmatic anomaly with its newest exhibition of Markus Schinwald. Instead of the in Bregenz otherwise usual presentation of stars with a clear placement in art history, the Kunsthaus opened its doors to a very successful young artist. The Kunsthaus went far beyond its limits to stage Markus Schinwald’s largest exhibition ever: with the help of technology, regional craftsmen and specialists, and Jo Molitoris, the renowned cameraman who worked with U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The artist, born in Salzburg, and who lives and works in both Vienna and Los Angeles, transformed the three floors of the Kunsthaus into stage studios for sitcoms. Schinwald delights in this kind of US entertainment in which everyday situations are acted out as comedies; the canned laughter sounding from the off and signalising each new punch line to the audience. On the first floor you will find a peep show like stage, on the second floor a carriage cut into two parts, and on the third floor there is simply a stage background architecture – their central theme being elements which rotate, reminding of gym equipment. The multifunctional element of these three stages, which are actually large installations, is obvious: the viewer sees a bourgeois living room, which is only seemingly a living room. The walk-in sculpture could just as well be perceived as an exhibition, in which those typical Schinwald portraits are presented, showing subtly manipulated 19th century portraits, and thereby exposing neuroses in Sigmund Freud style. Amateur and professional actors, whose casting was conducted in Starmania-style, will perform on these three stages and the result is transmitted to flat screens. Schinwald applies distancing effects similar to those used by Berthold Brecht or Jean Luc Godard and which are also used in classic sitcoms: an actor sitting on a closet, identical twins causing confusion, and gymnasts, performing remarkable movements on unconventional equipment. These interruptions of the ritual make the viewer concentrate on him-/herself and allow for contemplation and new thoughts. And Schinwald? He showed up at the press conference in a creased black suit with silver coloured sneakers and answered all questions cool, professional and with an understatement. He combines the rebelliousness of his work with a congenial smile. by Wolfang Ölz Kunsthaus Bregenz 6900 Bregenz, Karl Tizian Platz, until 13.04.09 www.kunsthaus-bregenz.at Galerie Hubert Winter: Birgit Jürgenssen – Works from the 1980s Formal precision mechanic A gloomy triptych with a crescent moon, flames, a female body, showing a corset instead of the pudenda and jags, which could originate from a buzz saw: all this is unusual for Birgit Jürgenssen (however, this also calls for the perfunctory mentioning of the fact how appallingly underrepresented she is in the Viennese art scene). Jürgenssen’s works currently presented by gallery owner Hubert Winter were created in the 80s. They show Jürgenssen as an artist who was both ahead of her time, as well as committed to the spirit of her time. Her works remind of Tracey Emin, which are admittedly much more explicit, or of Maria Lassnig. Jürgenssen’s precision is proven both in these works as well as in a frieze-like photo showing a rope jumper lying on the floor, with her sport equipment braced around her body like a fetlock. The artist’s projections are less fascinating than this oppressive piece of work. She projects pictures on gold-shining bodies: be it simple signs, or jumping figures. Only their mysterious and sacral-mystic touch go beyond the, at that time, widespread feministic form of body art. Birgit Jürgenssen will continue to offer conundrums to generations of art historians. This fall she would celebrate her 60th birthday. So far none of the numerous museums that devote themselves to 20th century art have adequately presented her oeuvre. Even this year nothing of the sort is planned. This circumstance is nothing less than scandalous. And even at the beginning of the 21st century the question arises, how male artists with a comparable high-quality oeuvre would be presented in Vienna’s art scene. by Nina Schedlmayer Galerie Hubert Winter 1070 Vienna, Breite Gasse 17, until 25.04.09 www.galeriewinter.at Secession: Katrin Plavcak – Human or Other, Klaus Mosettig – Pradolux, Hannes Zebedin – Traverse with élan instead of lingering Art comes from the artist The Secession is back again. Three individual positions in the three spaces: main room, gallery, graphic cabinet; all three of Viennese provenance, as if nothing had to be forced, improved, or turned by 180 degrees. Not even half a year ago confusion swept through the rooms, presentational turmoil did not rank behind the organisational, and one thought that the principle, which was followed for the past decades, was finally buried. Now the exhibits are going on as they always had, and everything is different. In the main room: Katrin Plavcak. Here you know what you’ve got; the sovereign presentation of dozens of panel paintings including a balloon installation and a corner with loud music, sounds out what is Pop. Behind every painting there is another, Zappa and Helge Schneider, politicians, science fiction heroes and Goya’s creatures from his 43. Capricho, after the sleep of reason gives birth to monsters, are introduced. Anyhow, Pop implies the acceptance that there is nothing new. But repetitions can be exciting. In the graphic cabinet: Hannes Zebedin. He is one who intervenes and aims at being political. This time, however, his intervention turned out to be a fitting; a kind of reassembling and dismantling of the gallery, which was once attributed the pompous term of institutional criticism. Doesn’t matter. Zebedin constructs walls in the hallway, beautiful smooth white-cube-like tiles, attempting to achieve a reversal effect. The exhibition space is not extended, but, as the construction authorities put it, it is made impassable, one has to pause on the ground floor, look up, and the space is extended after all. Everything would be nothing without art. Nevertheless - a perfect operation. In the gallery: Klaus Mosettig. He sets the highlight with a wonderful tribute to the principle of homage. In the 60s, Elaine Sturtevant, the mother of all appropriation artists, applied the traditional procedure of photorealism, projecting pictures onto a canvas, copying and transposing them to templates, which presented artwork. Mosettig does the same, especially with Jackson Pollock. He does this with pencil and yet again slows down the by now veteran and slowly expiring works with slides. Pollock is transferred from the wall to the ground and his authentic dripping is projected onto sheets, of which there are 15, all the same, because they were subject to one single template, but simultaneously always different, because the pencil claims its pertinacity. Who claims that it is the context, the situation, the location, which constitute art. An artists’ association could present nothing more evident. by Rainer Metzger Secession 1010 Vienna, Friedrichstrasse 12, until 13.04.09 www.secession.at Museo Nacional del Prado: Francis Bacon Premier with a master There was a lengthy discussion if the Prado Museum was allowed to present a contemporary artist or not. Until now Picasso’s year of birth, 1881, was the benchmark: artists born before were shown at the Prado, those born later were presented at the Reina Sofia Museum for Modern Art. Prado-director Miguel Zugaza had originally planned to show works by Miquel Bareló in the new exhibitions halls of the Prado, but plans changed in favour of Francis Bacon. Whoever expected a special dialogue between Bacon’s works and those of famous Spanish artists such as Velazquez, Goya and Picasso, will be disappointed. On the occasion of Bacon’s 100th birthday, the retrospective was jointly organized between the Tate Britain and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and shows 62 works dated from 1945 to 1991. The chronological order is divided into ten themes. Bacon’s strong tie to Madrid, where he died in April 1992, had close connections to love and art. The Juan March foundation merely devoted a small exhibit to the artist in 1978. The intensity of the exhibition at the Prado is overwhelming: it touches, disturbs, makes one concerned, even angry (when looking at the paralyzed girl on hands and knees), arouses admiration and stirs up. Surely no visitor is left untouched by this panorama of suffering souls and screaming bodies, to which the colourfulness and intimacy are only in a seeming contradiction. The paintings, ranging from the early war work, “Figure in a landscape” (1945), which one would not attribute to Bacon or “Jet of Water” (1988), over numerous triptychs, inspired by T.S. Elliot’s poem “Sweeney Agonists” (1967), the portraits, to his last self portrait created in 1991, show the brutal, radical, drastic, destructive world of the artist. The insight into the material of his studio allows one to surmise into how much detail Bacon went. One triptych from 1983 from Juan Abelló’s collection is exclusively presented in Madrid. It did not travel to London and will not fly to New York, where the retrospective will be presented as of May. by Clementine Kügler Museo Nacional del Prado 28014 Madrid, Paseo Prado, until 19.04.09 museoprado.mcu.es

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