on Karine Fauchard at Dienstag Abend at the Ve.Sch

In her installation ‘Thank you for the flowers’ presented at the Ve.Sch in the Dienstag Abend program, Karine Fauchard strongly expands the reach of understandings and the prospects for her work.  This site-specific sculptural installation opens new paths for her work and underscores the recurrent themes of her painting practice.  Particularly, that of a recent body of paintings depicting objects offered for auction by the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.  Now, like in her paintings Fauchard re-contextualizes still life with cultivated material sensitivity.

In ‘Thank you for the flowers’ Fauchard leaves the white walls of the Ve.Sch’s backroom gallery untouched.  On two white pedestals of different heights and on the floor are installed clear glass vases of assorted sizes and shapes.  Each vase contains flowers that have been left to dry.  Every one is unique referencing possessing some type of an anthology of objects.  Here, Fauchard’s staging of the matter of collection has a different take than other artists.  For instance, Fauchard maintains a divergent interpretation when compared to the recent installation in the Secession by Manfred Pernice.  Hers is not meant to be especially educational or instructional, rather Fauchard highlights the meaning of having a collection by selecting to include each object for the pure form of the work.

Based on the suggestion of the title, the flowers are indications to gifts of cut flower bouquets seemingly once given to the artist.  Also, each glass vase holds a particular ikebana like arrangement of flowers as well as water or a trace of water.  The inclusion of water suggests that each time a bouquet was received, that then the flowers were place into a vessel with water to extend each plants’ life spans.   But now, the plants are dry and dead.  What is left of the bouquets, in their assorted degrees of slow disintegration, presents a view of beauty in the present and reflects that the flowers were enjoyed while the blossoms lived.   Thereby, the flowers were enjoyed alive and were given water to be kept so for a time.  As they were not hung to dry or placed on a drying rack, it makes clear that the production of dried flowers was not the concerned outcome.  Fauchard’s work points to the experience of viewing the plants at all of the stages during their life cycle albeit in a nonclinical fashion.  So it seems, these flowers were enjoyed alive and Fauchard simple chose for the flowers to remain to make the piece.

The individual flowers, a mix of species that certainly includes roses, each transform differently while drying.  Not just the flowers but so too was the water of each vase changed over time. Apart from initially being filled into each vessel the water was, just as the flowers, left untouched.  Resulting that in some vases while the flowers dried the water evaporated.  In other vases the flower stems began to rot before drying thereby turning the water into black sludge or green foam.  Of the vases with colored water, the water sometimes evaporated while in those, especially those having a sealed neck, the water continues to remains.  In these vases, the stems and flowers move along their biological change of decomposition and dehydration leaving trace in the water.  According to Fauchard, some of the bouquets are a year old while others have been included in the piece far more recently.

In sum, Fauchard engages ephemeral sculpture depicting still life achieving meaning.  Appropriating this genre so too are artists like Leslie Vance and Laura Letinsky, but Fauchard selects to leave hardly a trace of her mark allowing chance arrangements ripen.  Confronting the viewer with her real momento mori, Fauchard portrays death, growth, intimacy, nostalgia and aesthetics from a slight patient gesture.

Ve.Sch – Verein für Raum und Form in der bildenden <Dienstag Abend>

Schikanedergasse 11, A-1040 Wien

3 Mai, 2011

-Ezara Spangl

on Benjamin Hirte’s Diploma at Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

In his diploma exhibition, Benjamin Hirte concerns his work with compression as he manipulates and positions aluminum and steel.  Upon completing his academic studies at the University of Fine Arts Vienna in the class of Heimo Zobernig, Hirte tactfully sets his work projecting a demur and cogent aesthetic.

Shaping aluminum and steel into representations of parts from industrial sieves, Hirte effects gravity and indicates to the lightness of air.  Long rectangular poles with curving edges connect one to another, or press against the wall or floor.  In the molding of raw material, Hirte demonstrates his veneration of each essential matter.  He cites mechanical fabrication and societal utilitarian functioning both in each structure’s appearance and in including an industry produced grid laying upon a deliberate shape.  So doing, he appends formation, production, and contextualization into the inherent physical matter of  the functioning of his forms.

In addition to metal, Hirte employs a selection of other materials.  One cardboard box sits on the floor with available take-away inkjet print folders in an edition of 300.  On one wall hangs a single glossy colored print of an amalgamation from graphics of critical book covers.  There is also a bit of scotch tape hinging bands of metal together evincing a ‘so what’ ethos.  That is, so what if he uses a little bit of plastic?  That it is a petroleum bi-product and probably the most ancient material available does not matter.  Likewise, the introduction of soap is a deft move.  One bloc of soap pins down a metal rod to support a work. The waxy milky translucent substance is precisely another of Hirte’s double-entendres, an overt symbol of seduction and also an allegory of the human imperative to cleanse.

Removing the room’s wooden baseboards, Hirte kept only the reference to the building’s historic architecture.  Dealing with such considerations and removing possible distractions, Hirte intends each of his slights to be viewed.

Bildhauerateliers, Kurzbauergasse 9, 1020 Wien

28.1.2011 – 2.2.2011

-Ezara Spangl

on Pull My Daisy at •

The group show at Lisa Ruyter’s new gallery • proves appropriately provocative, given it is the namesake of the 1959 beat film by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, ‘Pull My Daisy’.  Like the film, this exhibition combines works from artists with considerable street credit.  With varying modes of current consciousness, the works of Lisa Beck, Jessica Craig-Martin, Francesca Di Mattio, Nicole Eisenman, Sissel Kardel, Laleh Khorramian, Julie Ryan and Garth Weiser are pitted against one another, making space to define each one’s logic.

Fearless in complexity is Francesca Di Mattio’s painting and collage.  Using black and white like a full spectrum palette, she unveils a timeless spatial love affair and a two-faced jester dreamboat.  Equally full-on are Jessica Craig-Martin’s gems triggering the inner voyeur.  Her penchant for tightly cropped high-gloss shots, slip in lamé lepord print and makeup wonders.  Likewise referencing pattern are Julie Ryan’s works on paper.  In her drawings and paintings, Ryan plays with combines and locates abstraction in an immediate setting.  The paintings of Lisa Beck carry on a dialogue between space and design depicting landscapes with lyrical circular forms.  The wall painting and canvas work from Garth Weiser fold-in his duly celebrated casual hard-edged air to the preceding painterly and conceptual signatures.  His blue, white, and black flat-on-flat works bring rythm and volume to this mix.

The large projection of Laleh Khorramian’s animation is wonderful.  Portraying dance, architecture, space and sex with the skins of two oranges, her’s is a terrific work.  Masterful to the same degree are Nicole Eisenman’s figure paintings.  Somewhat raw and somewhat poetic, the female and male portrait paintings graze being implicit proverbs.  In Sissel Kardel’s paintings and drawings the figure is also imperative.  Evenly balanced by the ornate wild landscape, Kardel’s nude self-portraits bring rapture to sight.

Its that this is a particular exhibition, where each artist is given the space to speak in her or his own tongue.  It follows Jack Kerouac’s text in the aforementioned film, “well, lets get on then.  Let em be courtly and polite as befits poets.  So, all the poets meet.”

, Kantgasse 3/20, 1010 Wien

November 19 – January 8, 2011

– Ezara Spangl

on Trevor Paglen at the Secession

In his exhibition at the Secession, Trevor Paglen shows stunning images from several ongoing bodies of work.  Though the show is predominantly photography, Paglen says he is interested in photography only as a means to explore the farthest boundaries of human optics; his pursuit concerns aesthetics yet veers towards epistemological inquiry.  With extensive research, invention, and a slow continuous practice Paglen is recording secrets, making unknown truths visible.

It takes Paglen sometimes up to five years to complete a unique image.  Laboriously carrying cameras, telescopes and astronomy equipment into mountainous or desert terrain, Paglen locates his subjects as far as 30 miles away and doing so is able to make photographs of secret US military bases, hangers, drone assassination aircrafts, and even the workers commuting in planes to these secret locations.   One such image is ‘They Watch the Moon,’ in which Paglen shoots an installation of giant satellite dishes sitting atop mountains in the middle of a massive radio frequency quiet zone located in West Virginia.  Paglen knows that these espionage satellite dishes are used by the military to pickup something called moonbounce, which apparently is the reflection of sound waves that literally bounce off the moon’s surface and travel back toward earth.  While he shoots such provocative images, Paglen’s attitude is that of simply collecting and preserving evidence and pointing out limits.  Knowingly though, the photographs are in fact just photographs and the said evidence is not always obvious.

With his specially designed photographic structures, Paglen maneuvers his camera machines to counteract the earth’s rotation in order to maintain long exposures capturing both distinct stars and trails of secret orbiting satellites.   In a photograph of the planet Jupiter and its moons, Paglen makes a direct reference to Galileo Galilei, whose discoveries about Jupiter led to his claims against the fundamental concepts of the universe.  The adjoining photograph is a nighttime image of a person in an office working in the US National Reconnaissance Office.  In another, a large image of a blue cloudy sky with two minuscule aircraft details, which are robot airplanes (with names like Reaper Drone and Predator Drone).  In a video Paglen projects feed that was hacked off of satellite communications between stationary military pilots and drone airplanes in the sky.  The video is the pilot’s view on the screen while remotely flying the drone plane through target practice somewhere over Eastern Europe.  These things are unsettling, that is absolute, but Paglen says it is not about explaining the secret things; he just helps us to see them.

Secession, Friedrichstraße 12, A-1010 Wien

26. 11. 2010 – 13. 2. 2011

– Ezara Spangl

on Rainer Spangl at Song Song

Rainer Spangl’s paintings are fresh for their lettered material sensibility in both oil and watercolor and because they address conceptions of traditional paintings within the framework of current practice.  In his exhibition Blätter und Kammern at Song Song in Vienna, Spangl selected thirteen paintings ranging in scale from one and a half meters high to 30 cm high, fluctuating between oil on canvas and watercolor on panel.

In watercolor, Spangl assumes a direct observational garden painting system.  His sincerity and craftsmanship are evidenced in the soft ivory surfaces of his wood panels.  Primed with traditional chalk ground, Spangl paints atmospheric washes of blues and yellows and upon these, depictions of trees, bushes, and plants.  Though there are no figures in Spangl’s intimate landscapes, his watercolor pieces carry a liking to post-impressionism’s use of gardens as metaphors for transcendent possibility.

Working with oil paint on canvas, Spangl’s style is indirect.  His canvases vary in size each covered by a unique monochrome of color.  On top of these color fields, Spangl illustrates scenes and objects composed of distinct marks, painted-in long and short strokes, also having a singular hue.  The effect of the limited color interactions is striking.  Likewise, Spangl’s choice of subject matter is equally bold.  The scope of his renderings range from a harbor view on the Cote D’Azure, to a monastery’s library’s 17th century Venetian globe, to a preserved 16th century whale horn believed to be that of a unicorn.  In his way, Spangl takes on one of today’s most difficult positions, that of confronting conceptions of leisure, the everyday and the role of relics.

The combination of Spangl’s garden watercolor paintings and his op-oil paintings together address not only their subjects, but also the history of western painting.  In that they are paintings, Spangl smartly shoulders credit for that which is in each piece from painting to painting.  There is no accompanying manifesto for there is no need.  They are, each one, knowingly painted on beauty and knowingly institutionally critical.

Song Song, Praterstrasse 11, 1020, Vienna Austria

September 3 – October 9, 2010

– Ezara Spangl

on Luisa Kasalicky at Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder

Installation view / Login

Installation view / Magazin

A work that Luisa Kasalicky refers to as a unique painting, but what may also be designated an installation, is presently on view at the Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder’s Login room.  Provoking a reflection on refinement and spatial armature Kasalicky uses the gallery’s so to speak street level vitrine to distinguish her architecturally sensitive practice.  Kasalicky affects aesthetics suggestive of minimalist design, constructivist drawing and a practice of appropriation.

In the Login, Kasalicky responds to the support, here the shut-in exhibition room.  There are quadrilateral slabs of deep red ocher dry wall with tightly wrapped edges.   Two significant cross shapes made of wood facing away from one another painted green and dark grey sit flat and angle off the wall.  There is a suspended sheet of reflective metal colored plastic.  On which, only a fuzzy glow of light shining through windows may be seen.  Above are two identical purple painted metal three ringed fixtures.  Two brass drapery rods hang vertically just under the height of the ceiling.

Kasalicky’s work at the Login is one of a series, the second of which was presented in her concurrent installation at the Magazin.  In the installation there, the formation of the work is in a nearly symmetrical system.  With elements the same as the piece in the Login, included at Magazin, are cutout drawings made in roofing material depicting chainmail and the design of a manhole cover.  Both works present Kasalicky’s style to mix and often reverse prop with ornament.

That the artist is influenced by Baroque decoration and weapon displays is made clear particularly in the wooden cross works.  Likewise, the three-ringed hook readymades perhaps reference Dada works such as the Hat Rack by Marcel Duchamp.  Though such symbolism is the lead into Kasalicky’s work, her clean approach functions today, as every staple, nail and brush of enamel is knowingly precise.  Each element augments the partly rough matt and partly glam sheen sceen.  It is there, where things cojoin and fragment, titled exclusive, that Kasalicky tells a silent narrative.

Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Grünangergasse 1, 1010 Vienna

18.9.2010 – 23.10.2010

– Ezara Spangl

on group show at Ventilazione

Ventilazione in the 9th district presents a group show of all but one of the space’s members.  Managed something akin to a club, each of the seven artists may hold a solo exhibition and participate in the group programs throughout the year.  Presently it is one of the latter, a diverse mix.

In Josef Zekoff’s work, characters from the Western cinema genre are appropriated portraying dual cores of good and bad.  Ironically, Zekoff constructs a pastiche of youthful infatuation with discerning and tactful self-awareness.  One portrait, painted with oils, a broad brush, and dark hues focusing on a set of eyes and a bandana covered face.  Keeping true to the morality tales, the painted strokes and the composition doubly mark a border defining what is civilized and what is not.  In collage, the combination of deco interior wall paint chips, romantic pale brush marks, and copied movie stills concurrently mark the edge between a delight in a lust for the Wild West and an easy dismissal of this same sentiment.

Subsequent to the book collaboration involving Zekoff and Niko Sturm, a series of heliographic reproductions of photographs hang in thick steel and wood wrought frames.  The photographed images are of the artists, casual in black suits, standing in country pastures with unconcerned white long-horned oxen.  Zekoff and Sturm employ the revered black and white technique of production to heighten the luminance of the images and to underline the tension in the works.  Theirs is a strange working space, based on exposing ego, bond, conquest and fear, in masculinity and in nature.

Other than the collaboration, Sturm shows one painting.  This large piece is indicative of a heroic approach to working on canvas.  Composed of harsh physical movements in paint and paper and applications of metal, the painting manages to depict balance and lightness.  This scarce blend reaches an agreement connecting force with beauty.  Born out of a kind of painting celebrated in the 1950s Sturm fashions his challenge into an easy current pleasure.

With photography Ivo Kocherscheidt portrays defeat and decay and yet for some species, renewal.  Shot in an unfamiliar deep ocean world, the photographs detail a landscape where the implication of a horizon is confused to the point of release.  What is clear in the pictures of this alien environment is the absence of a living human presence, but of a presence of the wreckage of human endeavor.  Rotting ship vessels that have by some means landed on the ocean floor render a cold silence.  Incredibly photographed far beneath the level of standard water exploration, these pictures narrate the end story of some potentially catastrophic end.

Likewise Max Piva uses photography to draw lines in graceful haunting forms and cityscapes.  The conceptual drawings of Florian Unterberger examine the rhythm of the everyday.  Oliver Marceta’s painting of a boxer and an assemblage sculpture effectively augment this compelling exhibition.

Ventilazione, Wasagasse/ EckeHörlgasse, 1090 Vienna

6.5.2010 – 31.5.2010

– Ezara Spangl

on Franz Graf at Kunsthalle Krems

In Krems, the thirty-year retrospective of Franz Graf makes clear why Graf warrants his icon status in Austria and his reputation as role model to many emerging Viennese artists.  Titled ‘SCHWARZ HEUTE JETZT HABE DASS SCHON FAST VERGESSEN’ (translates something like, ‘black, today now I have almost forgotten), the predominantly black and white exhibition spans six large rooms of Kunsthalle Krems.  On paper, canvas, photographs and mixed form sculpture, Graf repeats motifs of text, female portraiture, hands, spines, and plants.  In many pieces he adheres to strict symmetrical geometry in depicting abstract organic forms or record album shaped circles, but Graf leaves open his work to a-linearity and free form composition.  To a greater extent Graf’s handling of his own works alters the read depicting both exactitude with nonchalance.  Particularly, the graphite and ink paper pieces incite the coincident duality of tightness and openness.  In these, white paper grounds hold dense black hardedge graphic forms with apparent unconcern for the surrounding overall fingerprints of dust, chalk and ink.  These smudges and traces reveal, as form-follows-function, that there are many images coming to Graf, but the point is his practice.

Plausibly, the circulation of Graf’s exhibition reflects a reasoning of combining distant themes to locate specific affected sentiments.  In text, Graf uses words as well as the aesthetics of font to emote clear sentences and non-language pictures.  Painted words go from quoting inspirations to quoting himself, as in, ‘was ich davon gesehen’ (what I have already seen) and ‘wir sind nicht gleich’ (we are not the same).  Text also exists as image alone, for instance with gothic letters forming undecipherable words and compositions based on single letters, such as ‘M’.  Faces of women are portrayed repeatedly with graphic details fixed in eyes and rasps of hair.  Some faces appear again and again, one of mention is a woman’s face that repeats in many of the portraits staged as though she is gazing off, somehow over the shoulder of the painting.  In other works, the female portraits seem more distant just as a model from the late renaissance and another, a nude participating in a bondage scene.  The ebb and flow of Graf’s practice reveals conviction of synchronized repetitions but yet marked by decided instances that reveal either moments of changed direction or of portraying a current inspiration.

The ending room of the exhibition is a large space, which has been turned into a performance space surrounded by some of Graf’s found object sculptures, namely out of date muscle building machines that look like small vessels and thrones, an upright piano, scaffolding and one mannequin bust.  A stage is set for music bands from Iceland to perform.  Above the stage hangs a large white canvas onto which is projected a looping color video of stills.  There are two paintings hanging high on a wall, one that is predominantly black with text and one that is white with a concentric rectangle pattern.

Throughout, heavy themes close to trauma, desire, rawness, and relaxation are carried in graphic central imagery.  The materiality and repeating images present determination but decidedly remain unfinished revealing train of thought and thereby finding an end.

Kunstmeile Krems, Franz-Zeller-Platz 3, 3500 Krems an der Donau

March 28 – June 27, 2010

-Ezara Spangl

on Edgar Tezak at Stoob Keramik Werkstatt

Just one hour drive out from Vienna into Burgenland can one view a remarkable ceramic mural by Edgar Tezak.   Presently installed in the Keramikwerkstätte Stoob this expansive work depicts figures and animals engaged in quasi-psychic communications and metamorphoses on muted grounds with vigorous color bursts.  These themes and motifs have reappeared in Tezak’s work throughout his career from the late 1970s to now.  Though here the figures, naked humans transformed with animals, are scaled larger-than-life-size appearing as archetypal characters in a frozen epic narrative.

In parts, the mural alludes to something of a folklore-ish fairytale and something of a Jungian study of the Hindu Upanishads.  However, there is no linear chronology in the piece.  Moments of a perceived story reflect a contemporary reading and the anticipation of the importance in focusing on still moments.  Thereby Tezak undogmatically confers the possibility of analysis in moment viewing the work.

The detail of the painted line as well as the moments of robust color interact easily while conveying heavy relations involving humans, doves, geese, ravens and deer.  Made up by over 600 square tiles, the form of the mural provides an underlying grid serving as the underpainting.  Painted with splatters, throws and sprays of ceramic glaze alongside thin and broad brush painted lines, and then kiln fired, the tiles depict transformation in their conception as well as their collective account.

Keramikwerkstätte Stoob, Keramikstraße 14, A 7344 Stoob

-Ezara Spangl

on Ute Müller at Galerie Dana Charkasi




In a city so sensitive to shades of grey, the ‘Back in 5 minutes.’ exhibition at Galerie Dana Charkasi defines Ute Müller as a uniquely discerning painter working in Vienna.  Showing muted, dark, matt paintings under her particular studio lighting conditions, Müller describes an atmosphere reflective of the city’s established fineness and griminess.  Likewise, in each painting and throughout the full installation, Müller imparts a deceptively easy aesthetic of elegance.

Müller uses her warm grey palette of tempera paint on canvas to build up and also to excavate a central geometric composition.  The ground of each painting is covered in variations of deep matt greys, which are sometimes the result of her painting over and adjusting the surface as she arranges the composition.   Within these grey fields, lighter color values delineate geometric lines extracted from combinations of drawings of objects and architecture.  Müller uses these lines to form numerous and varied angles of perception.  Within the geometric constructions, these views and angles suggest cubism, but by portraying expansive spaces, spaces much broader than the dimensions of the canvases, Müller locates a position of making a re-presentation of classical painting, plus with an inherent attractiveness.

Instead of the gallery’s lamps, Müller mounts her personal vertical neon fixtures to light the paintings.  From these lamps stem winding cables that lay on the floor, a utilitarian form as the artists says she needs the cables to be long so she may plug them into sockets at various distances and to move the lamps around the studio.  In the first room of the gallery is a hanging slotted curtain painted grey, making a chilly though alluring welcome, a pertinent opener to Müller’s works.

Galerie Dana Charkasi, A-1010 Vienna, Fleischmarkt 11, Griechenbeisl-House, 2nd Floor, 10.09. –  06.11.2009

-Ezara Spangl