Graficki Kolektiv Gallery, Belgrade: Viennese masters of Printmaking

Viennese masters of Printmaking

June 24 – July 6, 2013

The reputation of printed graphic art in the second half of the 20th century in Austria was excellent, because there were some artists who specialized in printed art, developing there a very characteristic visual language of their own. Supported by Walter Koschatzky, the director of world famous Viennese Albertina, the greatest collection of prints and drawings, they found international recognition when participating in international print Biennials and Triennials as in Kraków, Ljubljana, Varna, Tokyo, Seoul, and many other places, and through having great exhibitions in art galleries which were devoted to printmaking, and in great museums all over the world. These artists continued the tradition of high quality printmaking in Austria and lead this tradition to the 21st century.

Our exhibition shows five artists, one woman and four men, who are now 70 or 80 years of age. They present a generation of printmaking artists, to which also belong masters like Alfred Hrdlicka, Georg Eisler, Fritz Martinz Rudolf Schönwald, further the woodcutters Linde Waber and erich Steininger, and all the artists of Phantastic Realism – just to name a few of them. I show artists who have some connection to Serbia or the former Yugoslavia, to Serbian and and Slavonic culture.

Our five artists never appeared or acted as a group but they formed a big stream of art, in which the aesthetic idea and the craftsmanship flowed together to a special Austrian art: Story telling as in a local pub, pictures of dramatic situations, and egocentric disputations about „God and the world“, and even abstract compositions full of baroque suspense and psychoanalytic comments are important elements of Austrian art. It is very interesting and characteristic for art in Austria, especially in Vienna, that only one of the shown artists, Florentina Pakosta, was born in Vienna. Herwig Zens was born closely to Vienna in Lower Austria, Drago Prelog in Slovenia, Heinrich Heuer in Germany and Robert Hammerstiel in Vršac, Serbia.

But they all formed their individual aesthetic language in Vienna: Vienna is the biosphere to encourage artists to outstanding performances, as the audience and the beholders in Vienna alternate between clapping enthusiastically and railing against the artists. Being admired and being criticised at the same time, our presented artists step further on their ways – presently still unknown to the audience.

Florentina Pakosta, born 1933 in Vienna, is famous for her etchings of faces and physiognomies in the succession of Fraz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736 – 1783), who is one of the most fascinating sculptors of the Enlightenment. He brok away from the traditional pattern of prestigious baroque portraits, and around 1770 he radicalised his work and created his best known work group, the „Character Heads“. These figures inspired Pakosta to her series of „Character Heads“ and influenced her monumental portraits of famous personalities of Viennese culutral life. Her drawings and paintings belong to the very first and radical feministic works in Austria. In 1989 she stopped her figrativ art and started her „tricolore“ abstrct paintings. This serie continues till today.

Heinrich Heuer, born 1934 in Pomerania, Germay, studied came in the 1950s to Vienna, where he finished his studies. Since then he lives in Vienna. He is the great master of aquatinte. He dedicates himself to the continuation of the great traditions of abstract art, which started in the 1950ies in Germany and France. Heuers prints are documents of his fulminant mastership in the most subtile technical tricks and effects of etching, and they are witnesses of his witty, balky, and sometimes hardheaded spirit. The interpretation of his forms and formal experiments demands the beholder’s full concentration on associations and annotation which will be evoked by Heuer’s forms and structures. He lived some months in monastery Hilandar, where he restored old etchings and engravings and printed them.

Herwig Zens, born 1943 in Himberg near Vienna. His masterpiece is his diary, started on 9th November 1977 with a self-portrait and marking the long-term perspective by putting „page I“ on the first plate. Every day Zens scratches the date, a drawing, some words, some remarks on a prepared copper plate, which is 40 cm high and 5 centimeters wide. First he used only etching, later also aquatinte and other techniques. Every plate is printed in an edition of 30, then all plates of one year on one sheet. In the year 2005 all at that time existing plates were printed by masterprinter Kurt Zein as the longest intaglio print of the world on a paper role of 40 meters. The diary has become an obsession, as other great subjects did for Herwig Zens: Goya, Schubert, Mount Athos.

Drago Prelog, born 1939 in Celje, Slovenia, moved 1944 to Styria, Austria. Since his studies at the Academy in Vienna Drago Prelog is fascinated by the possibilities of writing. His first script pictures he categorizes as orthodox lettering. Later he creates his „personal alphabet“ with letters inspired by the latin and the cyrillic characters and his own visual smbols, taken from his „round-about-pictures“ and scriptural drawings. In the 1970ies Prelog added embossments to his etchings, and in 1988 appeared his first „Prelography“: a print by a pattern with cut-out holes, through which the colour paste is pressed onto the paper. „Prelography“ is some kind of threedimensional printmaking, a very special and individual technique by Drago Prelog.

Robert Hammerstiel was born 1933 in Vršac, Serbia. His father was baker and icon painter. After the end of World War 2 Robert Hammerstiel came as refugee to Austria, where he worked as metalworker in the heavy industrie in Lower Austria. In courses given by the workers union he studied art and cut his first woodcuts, inspired by his admired teacher Robert Schmitt. In the 1970ies his name as artist was well known in Austria and Germany, where he found collectors, who made it possible for him to leave the job at the steel factory and to live as free lancing artist. His work is dedicated to all the people from Vršac, to the workers, to the poor people and those whos struggle to reach a better life. In 2010 The Robert-Hammerstiel-Museum was opend in Vrsac in the house, where Hammerstiel’s mother was born.

Philipp Maurer, cultural scientist, art critic, editor of „Um:Druck – journal for printmaking and visual culture“, Vienna.

www.grafickikolektiv.org

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