100412: Forum Frohner: Padhi Frieberger – The Splendour and Wretchedness of Modernism

Forum Frohner Padhi Frieberger – The Splendour and Wretchedness of Modernism 16.10.2012 – 15.04.2012 “Once modern – always modern” By Margareta Sandhofer Padhi Frieberger isn't a myth. And he's not a phantom. Padhi is simply there, completely real and quite present – provided he lets someone get close to him. He's just as real as his art. And he is active as never before and that in his best metier of his comprehensive art, in the staging, the staging of his works and himself. And it's always authentic. He's also perfectly styled despite being over 80 years of age and his appearance is precise in every detail. Dressed in a light blue jeans jacket with a matching blue T-shirt, matching blue trousers and matching blue cap, his blue eyes sparkle at you, sometimes with a piercing look down the sharply cut nose – between the closely packed, properly ordered piles and stacks of his archive. Because of his frail health, he is now concentrating fully on the exact compilation of his painstakingly collected, extremely complex photographic documentation of all his activities and on documenting new texts and verbal ideas, his aphorisms. Because as he says: "I'm not a literary figure, I'm an artist who has something to say." And he has a lot to say - he always did, sometimes too much. In the Krems exhibition, his early work, which sweepingly showed him as an unbelievably progressive pioneer, is also presented. It doesn't matter whether it's an early watercolour which reminds one of the Bauhaus style, pictures like those by Oskar Schlemmer, the object "o.T." of 1954 which in its still-life-like entity is related to the paintings of Giorgio Morandis and pre-empts material assemblage which is later exhibited under the term of object art. All the materials that Padhi Frieberger found, are integrated into his creations. What's trendy today as trash or throw-away art has its harbinger here. The object "o.T." from the cycle "The Reprocessing Object", a composition of sawn-up stools and a sawn-up table, is not dated however, but can be seen as an authentic early work from its condition and overall appearance (the collaged newspaper cuttings from 1945 also belong to this), namely on the level of Robert Rauschenberg's free-standing "Combines". Before Padhi Frieberger could have known Rauschenberg’s art, it exhibited striking parallels. His paintings with applied everyday objects can be compared with Rauschenberg's "Combine Paintings", in both cases it has to do with three-dimensional painting that possesses a true character as opposed to illusionism. The collages are similarly unconventionally put together, colourful, satirical picture and text fragments. In both works every hierarchical arrangement, every genre-specific allocation is withheld. Instead, focus is laid on an unconventional genre and border-transgressing aspect, as well as a society-critical aspect. A good portion of Dadaism is always present in Frieberger’s oeuvre – and for many works the satirical or sarcastic title is, "the point is that it's not always so desperately serious." However, in Rauschenberg's comparable objects, the convincing formalization and materiality of the open way of thinking of the free American scene definitely comes across. Frieberger has not always succeeded in liberating himself from the determining cultural narrowness of the Austrian post-war era. The ideally broad potential of the applicable irony is sometimes buried in the often-repeated plethora of the cynical arguments. To a certain extent, the struggle for artistic expression thwarts the development of a possible imaginary freedom of space. But there is a definite moment of opposition: original authenticity is always maintained in Padhi Frieberger's work as a distinctive and consequent quality. "My art is no gimmick, it is simply there." In the transgressive artistic personality of Padhi Frieberger, life, political attitude and art are identical. This unit stands as a monolith, as nothing less than a hermetic complex in unyielding, vehement rebellion against encrusted social, political and market-oriented systems. The strict non-compliance of the art market and its – to date – tempting mechanisms is an implicit, tenacious and obligatory principle. Frieberger leads a fight against each of the structures limiting individuality with musical, picturesque, verbal artistic statements, with radical consequences in both public and private life: "My art is a very important political issue." "I also write today, but much more radically. That's necessary because everyone only acts placidly." The diversity of Padhi Frieberger's creations, his relevance in an all-embracing context, can only be represented in fragments in an exhibition. However, what could – and should - be brought more into focus is the photographic work. He whom he permits to look into his photographic works bound in books will not only be surprised by the astonishing photographic talent, but will be deeply impressed; amazing the glance into "Padhi's Object Zone", amazing the glance into "Padhi's Habits". Padhi proves himself to be a brilliant photographer, the shots being as perfect in emotive theatrics as in still poetry. These are of artistic as well as historic significance, formidable documentation of his charismatic artistic personality in its complex facets; but above all, manifestations of a genial, shimmering production of his art as well as of his own person: the phenomena Padhi Frieberger in original authenticity, of timeless quality. "I profess to Modernism. I am a modern person, I don't let myself be corrupted by any regressive tendencies. Once modern – always modern!" (The quotations have been taken from a conversation held on 22.03.12 in the artist's archives, for which I sincerely thank Padhi Frieberger.) Forum Frohner 3504 Krems-Stein, Minoritenplatz 4

Forum Frohner
3504 Krems-Stein, Minoritenplatz 4
Tel: +43 (0) 2732/90 80 10, Fax: +43 (0) 2732/90 80 11
Email: office@forum-frohner.at
Öffnungszeiten: 11-17 h

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