Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman

Curated by_Marion Piffer Damiani ‘A kind of salon’ (Vienna)

Curated by_Marion Piffer Damiani ‘A kind of salon’ (Vienna)

Thursday, October 10, 2013Saturday, February 1, 2014

Maria-Theresien-Straße 34
Innsbruck, Austria

With Siegfried Anzinger, John M Armleder, Erwin Bohatsch, Herbert Brandl, Thomas Feuerstein, Günther Förg, Leiko Ikemura, Florin Kompatscher, Hermann Nitsch, Walter Obholzer, Norbert Schwontkowski, Erik Steinbrecher, Tal R and Otto Zitko

The success story of painting is owing mainly to the mobile picture panel that, while being a self-contained entity, circulates in the most diverse contexts and arrangements. The mobile tableau turns the presentation context into a picture puzzle. One and the same image moves easily from the neutral white of the art gallery to the institutional setting of a traditional museum, from the Gesamtkunstwerk of the self-organised art space to the domestic interior of a private environment, or being presented as an item of merchandise in an art auction. Keeping this in mind, a critical painting practice at all times will also entail dealing with strategies of setting and toying with modes of presentation. One of the principal places for the circulation of pictures, however, especially also the painted ones, still is the art gallery. The exhibition "A kind of salon" at the Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman Gallery, on the occasion of this year's edition of curated by_ on the question of "Why painting now?", deals with "framework conditions" and, in reference to an early form of presenting the mobile panel painting in the academic salons (and implicitly the many countersalons), presents an artistically conceived accrochage. In the days of the salons, well-known artists took on the role of a tapissier or décorateur and oversaw the hanging of individual paintings in several horizontal rows, one above the other, against floral tapestries. Today, painting preferably appears in company within an open field of reference. In his series of "Furniture Sculptures" John M Armleder anticipates the "change of scenery" of mobile panel paintings by simply providing set pieces of possible furnishings to go with his paintings. The question as to the relation between a work of art and the world is very much inherent in all this, one that provides distance and the freedom to leave conventions and systems behind: „You’re writing a narrative which is beyond you, that’s why it’s interesting.“ (JMA- in Frieze d/e No. 10 June-August 2013, p. 77) Standing at the helm of "A kind of salon," as it were, is Erik Steinbrecher, born in Switzerland and living in Berlin. The artist's oeuvre is characterised by its humour and irony. He is best known for his rambling, associative encyclopaedic assemblages of individual pictures of various origins, taken from the inexhaustible image pool of everyday life. Steinbrecher positions, groups and shifts the images as in a layout, arranges them into neat compositions, toying with the traditional genre of painting, from the landscape to the interior, from the portrait to the multifarious variations of abstraction. The concept is based on the idea of a traditional salon between "art and life," paintings hanging on the walls separately or in neatly arranged groups, in the way of a collection, or in a playful manner corresponding with the objects in the room. Around Armleder's sculpure "FS 230" (1989), positioned centrally in the main room, that consists of three upholstered chairs on a pedestal painted in acrylic, Steinbrecher arranges a series of abstract tableaux by various artists, each of them unique and at the same time part of a system which it circulates in. The "layouts" do not follow historical patterns but rather unfold putative family resemblances, and, when sculptural "flower islands" by John M Armleder appear in the immediate vicinity of painting that reminds us perhaps of plant life, provoke a comparative perception of image and object. The playing with references and allusions is continued in an assemblage of paintings and interiors, figures and disappeared figures, as well as a figurine "enlivening" the room. The latter, entitled "ER" (2013), and created by Steinbrecher himself, consists of a display dummy of a child, wearing a rubber mask and a white sports outfit comprising a men's polo shirt, sport socks and sneakers. Besides the elements of a stylised interior and a tamed nature by John M Armleder, Steinbrecher completes this fleeting "picturesque" scenery (in the sense of relating to pictures) of mutual referencing with a model (or phantom) of the human body. Who is ER? A guest? A visitor? ... A painter?
Marion Piffer Damiani, curator