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MAK Permanent Collection Contemporary Art Presents Walter Pichler. Sculptures Models Drawings

MAK Permanent Collection Contemporary Art Artists in Focus #11. Walter Pichler. Sculptures Models Drawings on view 26 February 2012.

With Artists in Focus #11 Walter Pichler. Sculptures Models Drawings, the MAK introduces an essential artistic stance from its Collection of Contemporary Art. The exhibition series is meant as an appeal to the public in which the museum presents a positioning strategy for the MAK Permanent Collection of Contemporary Art. A central aspect of this effort is the facilitation of necessary purchases by sponsors, patrons and supporters in order to supplement important thematic areas of the museum collection.

Walter Pichler, one of Austria’s most important visionary artists of the present, conceives of art as a program. Sculpture and architecture’s immanent interplay and the act of repetition—the motif of the endless—combine to form the narrative thread that runs through his oeuvre. Pichler’s production of art began in his probing of the 1960s zeitgeist for innovative strategies; he borrowed from the auto and aerospace industries, employed new materials such as plastic, aluminum and pneumatic elements and prefabricated spatial cells, and dealt ironically and critically with new technologies, media, forms of communication and science fiction. The lion’s share of his objects and environments are intended for some sort of actual use, with the human body functioning as a design parameter. These applications and applied forms elicit a great deal of resonance in the fields of architecture and art. In the 1970s, Pichler—who maintains a studio in Vienna—chose St. Martin an der Raab in the Province of Burgenland as a location where he could continue his architectural analyses and escape the dynamics of contemporary art production. He conceived of and created a laboratory-like sculptural art facility, adapting and expanding the conventional building stock he found on site as a hybrid area in which to work, live and present. There, his interests in sculpture, architecture and nature came together to form a Gesamtkunstwerk or comprehensive work of art, and he has since continued with this approach in his various architectural projects elsewhere. Shifting his artistic work to the country influenced Pichler’s specific choice of materials, a fact testified to by his use of found wood, mud, stone and bones, the connotations of which make reference to the concept of social sculpture. Pichler treats sculptures as cultic objects. For this exhibition at the MAK, he has developed a combined showing—a process-like scenario which removes his figurative sculptures from their intended spaces and stages them as a tableau vivant. The central theme of Pichler’s considerations, including with regard to his architectural concepts, consists in the human being and all that which is human. He uses sketches to capture emotions and situations. The artist deals with psychological phenomena via (auto)biographical references and in psychologizing frequencies suggestive of the traumatic moments of life such as illness, loss and death. He develops abstract interpretations of the memento mori theme, thereby performing an autopsy of sorts on the figurative aspects of the architectonic principle. In studies of proportion, evident in his sculptural forms, Pichler illuminates the human figure as a fragment and as an overall composition, in its function as a model, as well as clothed, standing, sitting and lying. His construction of the bodies reflects minimalist design criteria which Pichler has pursued since the beginning of his involvement with art. The sculptures are presented in a commensurate fashion, positioned axially and frontally, and with the individual elements commenting on both archaic forms and the modern era. At the same time, Pichler—referring to his Prototypes work group (1966/69)—occasionally assimilates contemporary influences from pop culture.

MAK Permanent Collection Contemporary Art
MAK, Stubenring 5
1010 Vienna

Image: Walter Pichler Portrait, 2011. © Elfie Tripamer

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