270409: Essl Museum: Alfons Schilling – 75th Birthday

Essl Museum: Alfons Schilling – 75th Birthday Rediscover how to see, not how to paint In case you expected a large retrospective on the occasion of Alfons Schilling’s 75th birthday, you will be disappointed. The Essl Museum only devoted three rooms to his work. His humungous paintings “Autobinäre Stereobilder” (1984 – 1986 and 1992/93) are all hung in a large room. They remind of meticulously painted enlargements of colourful light refractions in a prism. The seemingly Orphic, crystalline play of colours is meant to be viewed with both eyes, however through a monocle – a phenomenon which causes a 3D effect. Schilling’s holograms and lattice photography, with overlapping layers of photos dating from the late 60s and 70s, are also part of the Essl presentation. “Chicago Demo” (1968) shows impressive photos of gas mask helmets decorated with peace signs, protesters, and a policeman, as well as portraits of Jean Genet and William Boroughs, overlapped in such a way that you can (nearly) experience them as a motion picture - provided you view them in motion. With the same technique the illusion of ice is achieved in “Iceland II, Brainscape” (1971). “Let me unfocused” is scribbled in red paint on the lower glass edge. “We live in a time that is based on movement and simultaneity. We no longer stand like a tree on one spot. We want to see everything while we move. If I go into a museum, I am continuously moving”, Schilling said in his conversation with Christian Reder in 1988. All but one of the six so-called Rotation pictures, which he created in Paris, have a diameter exceeding two meters. The “Andromeda” points to the principle of the evolution of stars. The colours, slung at the panes, continue to rotate. Thereby, depending on the rotational speed, new pictures develop out of the colour spots - reminding of Marcel Duchamp’s circular panes. Following his exhibition with Günther Brus and Otto Muehl (1961) he becomes one of the co-founders of the Vienna Actionism. But on account of Schilling’s relocation to New York for a time span of 24 years, his later works no longer had any relationship to this group. The exhibit clearly demonstrates that Schilling’s goal is not to invent new pictures, but to invent a new approach – a new way of seeing. “Until now space is only a feeling.” (Schilling, 1961). He considers himself as an artist and researcher in a scientific dialogue. His visual experiments in which appliances that he built himself are used, such as the “Video-head-set” (1973) pre-empt the idea of a cyber-space visionary, as Peter Weibel ascertained. There is only one photo of Schilling at the Essl exhibition together with one of his viewing devices. Therefore, unfortunately, the most distinguished part of Alfons Schilling’s work is missing. By Renate Quehenberger Essl Museum 3400 Klosterneuburg, An der Donau-Au, until 24.05.09 www.essl.museum

Essl Museum
3400 Klosterneuburg, An der Donau-Au 1
Tel: +43-2243-370 50 150
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