02/07 - 05/11/2017
Abstraction is considered as one of the significant formal articulations of modern art, and it is most closely associated with painting.
The relentless analysis of the medium, breaking it down to its zero point, by the avant-garde of the 1910s was followed by a recurrent burgeoning of nonrepresentational painting, particularly in Abstract Expressionism, Informalism, and Minimal Art. Aftermodern abstraction of the 1960s was informed by skepticism of painting and the very idea of creative authorship; this was counterpointed with sensuality and intuition in the postmodern phase from the 1980s.
Featuring some sixty different art positions, the exhibition Abstract Painting Now! will place the focus on the present-day international situation of the nonrepresentational easel painting, covering the full range of a still significant painterly practice. The historical basis of the show is the development that followed upon Abstract Expressionism, carried above all by Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke. While the former after a period of agony, in which his grey “Inpaintings” were created, turned to the beautiful and seemingly expressive, the latter used abstraction as an ironic paraphrase, thus commenting on the veracity of the brush stroke as a mark of the artist self.
Deconstruction, criticism of authorship, mixing, quotation and ornament are some of the defining parameters of abstract painting today, when Wade Guyton is using an ink-jet printer to produce his minimalist striped pictures. Katharina Grosse switches from the traditional brush to the airbrush, creating iridescent colour fields. In classical modern painting, ornament was considered a crime, worthless skimmings in autonomous art. Within the stylistic plurality of postmodernism, it finds a place for itself again in abstract paintings of Ross Bleckner and Philip Taaffe. This expanded notion of abstraction also includes nature and landscape in the form of neoromantic expressive colour fields like those by Per Kirkeby. In Sean Scully, the geometric constructivism and painterly atmosphere come together in a symbiosis of reason and emotion. Spirituality and geometrical abstraction in the succession of Kazimir Malevich and Barnett Newman are essential to the work of Helmut Federle. In Brice Marden and Lee Ufan, the spiritual in art appears stored up in the brush stroke as a sign of the meditative act. This earnestness and the concentration on spirit and image are also found in the monochrome paintings of Marcia Hafif, Joseph Marioni, and Günter Umberg.
New abstract tendencies developed in Austria as well, which naturally integrated with the international positions into a larger whole: from the 1980s, there were neo-geometric conceptual works by Ernst Caramelle, Gerwald Rockenschaub, and Heimo Zobernig which originated side by side with colour field paintings by Erwin Bohatsch, Herbert Brandl, Hubert Scheibl, and Walter Vopava. In the exhibition, this will be followed by a number of more recent positions that have continued theabstraction project in its full range until the present day.
Curator: Florian Steininger