Arnulf Rainer Not Being an Angel
A crucial artist for understanding the European postwar mentality, Arnulf Rainer (b. 1929) is a bridge linking art feeding upon the liberated subconscious by means of the interwar, surrealist automatic dictation, and the desperate anguish boosted by the nuclear apocalypse which ended WW2.
Founded on the cohabitation of the irreducible polarities, on the fusion of radical creative liberation and the imminent senseless death, his art is a vigorous memento of the human frailty today. Exuberant and morbid, vulnerable and aggressive, his painting is abstract-lyrical as its means are concerned and tragic-spiritual as its ends are concerned.
The dark vitality of his photographs (frequently self-portraits in actionist, body art hypostases) and of his endlessly over-painted canvases convey, in an unmatched manner, the atrocious expansion of a black hole - the absurd, voracious, guilty conscience wrapping, covering and suffocating, as if a black fog, everything around it - faith, the self, the creation, the world.
Arnulf Rainer is one of the most well-known Austrian artists of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. His performance, photography, painting and installation works is a true criterion of experimental Austrian art. He re-employs traditional techniques, painting and drawing, and mix them up with performance, actions and photo interventions to convey a totally new, up-to-date aesthetic, spiritual and political experience. The selected works for the exhibition come from the artist’s own collection, provided by Thaddeus Ropac Gallery in Salzburg. They include some key-pieces from the works he exhibited in the acclaimed solo show in the Austrian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 1978.
Text by Erwin Kessler, curator