I have to confess: this was my first visit to Vienna. I know, I should be ashamed for not visiting the former imperial city earlier. Thanks to the Gallery Weekend organised by the association of twenty-one Viennese Galleries from the 28th to the 31st of May, I had the chance to discover not only the beauty of the city but its vibrant contemporary art scene.
Here are some of the highlights of my wandering around the sunny streets of Vienna during the Gallery Weekend.
I started my visit on Schleifmulgasse in the south part of the city.
At Charim Gallery’s project space, I could not help smiling and laughing at the video piece, Lament III (Museum Curator, Collector) by Anca Munteanu Rimnic, the Romanian-born, Berlin-based artist.
In a parody of traditional funeral, six Romanian wailers mourn the deceased: “Museum Curator, Collector”. The women exclaim the words and then break out in loud lamentation. The absurd suddenly becomes plausible.
I was seduced by the iconic work of the exhibition, Revue 25, at the Christine König Gallery: Glen Gould Bach’s Goldberg Variations by the Austrian artist-duo G.R.A.M. The sequence of 30 images is a brilliant re-enactment of the famous cover with carefully selected details.
At Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, next to Stephansplatz, I had the great pleasure to meet the Lady of the Contemporary Art scene in Vienna: Rosemarie Schwarzwälder. Rosemarie’s unparalleled passion radiates when she talks about Art. She presents the work of the late Ferdinand Penker, a Viennese abstract artist influenced by architecture. His monochrome compositions offer a fascinating paradox: the spontaneous gestures are in reality meticulously staged. His work challenges the viewer’s perception and teaches us to see beyond first appearances. From his visits and stay in Japan, he gained a sense for meditation, which is intrinsically part of his paintings.
A few streets away, Birgit Megerle at the Emanuel Layr Gallery juxtaposes figurative canvasses, portraits of public figures, with vibrant geometrical colors. She establishes a successful dialogue between the figurative and the abstract paintings and engages the viewer to embrace both instead of opposing them.
Gallery Elisabeth and Klaus Thoman has two exhibitions: a drawing group show to resonate with the great exhibition “Drawing Now” just opened at Albertina Museum and the sculptures of Michael Kienzer. Kienzer’s reinterpretation of everyday industrial objects, which he uses as his prime material, pushes the boundaries of sculptures and perceptions. The humility of the elements does not undermine the effectiveness of the visual impact these works create. Back at the drawing show, I was taken in by the Berlin-based artist collective FORT’s poetic installation and left with a small piece, a token of their performance’s work, a hair from one of my favorite artists: Sophie Calle.
My day ended at Krinzinger Gallery founded in 1971 by another Grande Dame of Vienna’s Contemporary Art Scene: Ursula Krinzinger. I was mesmerized by the Austrian artist, Martha Jungwirth, “the country’s most famous infamous artist”. Her aesthetic abstract compositions are full of impulse, energy and powerful colours. Not just mere abstractions, her works reflect on reality as thematically as her paintings capture “humanness” and are rich in emotions.
Given the excellent quality of the Gallery Weekend, I know why I will be back in Vienna same time next year.
Words/ Photos (2,3) Virginie Syn © Artlyst 2015 Top Photo: Courtesy of Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder – Ferdinand Penker 2,3 Birgit Megerle at the Emanuel Layr Gallery