Heimo Zobernig

Heimo Zobernig

The rooms on the ground floor of the Kunsthalle will have to put up with a certain amount of intervention: Heimo Zobernig (*1958, lives in Vienna), one of the most important Austrian artists of the middle generation, treats these rooms as if they were a mouldable mass. This programmatic concept of variability is evident on the cover page of the exhibition invitation and catalogue: dressed up to look like a dandy-pimp, the artist includes himself in the exhibition as someone who intervenes, who changes likes a chameleon, and is never quite graspable.

As pairs of concepts, myth and art, model and architecture, role and film have something in common with one another. In the case of Zobernig, subject, object and concept confront one another in a challenging controversy. Having produced his early works for the theatre at the beginning of the 1980s, he then entered a differentiating phase in which he questioned the language of the pictorial, initially by means of mainly abstract geometrical paintings and sculptures. Later, and in anticipation of important positions of the following years, Zobernig expanded his creative work to include a meticulous exploration of the most diverse media and their expressive potential. Texts and logos became independent images, scrutinising the conditions under which art functions as a form of communication. Written language thus became a central aspect of Zobernig’s oeuvre. This he examined analytically, in terms of its form and content, and also highlighted in its relationship to the subject, by productively and receptively appropriating image, text or video. Genres were stretched to their limits and technical, artistic and conceptual tasks were short-circuited. The resulting connections became manifest in a reduced aesthetic idiom, the conciseness and subtle elegance of which are familiar to us from Minimal art and Concept art.

This exhibition of works in the lower rooms of the Kunsthalle has been arranged by Heimo Zobernig and provides a view of his oeuvre that is only apparently serene; the exhibition was taken over from the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna and turned into an ironically distanced show. It has become at one and the same time, an inventory, a provocative retrospective and a specific installation.

From 12 July – 9 September another venue-related version of the exhibition will be on show at the K21 in Dusseldorf.

A comprehensive exhibition catalogue with essays by Eva Badura, Helmut Draxler, Isabelle Graw, Martin Prinzhorn and others will be published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.