Parallel to the exhibition Martha Jungwirth, Panta Rhei, at the Kunstmuseum Ravensburg, the Haas Gallery Zurich is showing works of two “classics” of contemporary Austrian painting with exhibits by Martha Jungwirth & Arnulf Rainer.
Martha Jungwirth was born in Vienna in 1940 and has lived there ever since. Arnulf Rainer was born in Baden near Vienna in 1929 and now lives in Vienna, Upper Austria and Tenerife. Galerie Haas juxtaposes five hand and finger paintings by Arnulf Rainer from the early 1980s with three paintings by Martha Jungwirth from 2013 – 2016.
This juxtaposition promises great similarities at first glance in their strongly colored, gestural and energetic design, but at second glance it shows that the works come from different times, attitudes and developments.
In his expressive to aggressive painting, Arnulf Rainer is concerned with the erasure of the given, beginning with the classics of art history and ending with self-portraits. Through the gestural painting of the motif alone, the artist achieves a painting that makes its own visible. In the works in the exhibition, colored grounds are painted over again and again with gestural color networks of lines and bands, so that blue, green, red, black balls of forms or forms that drift apart remain. Coming from the contemporaneity of Viennese Actionism and performance, Rainer always remains true to the panel painting.
Martha Jungwirth creates and builds color spaces, in a range between representationalism and abstraction, which seem to open up to real space. In her own rhythm, she places spots of color, color strips, color fields on brown wrapping paper that lies on the floor while painting. Jungwirth’s “creations” emerge from a physical expression that obeys the coincidence of events and the experience of the body. The artist herself writes: “my painting is bound to me, to the moment, to the supple hand, the quick eye, the good leg work, to the uncontrolled flow, …”.
Including the body in painting is what connects Martha Jungwirth with Arnulf Rainer. For Rainer, it is gestural foot, hand and finger paintings or actional overpaintings that constitute the essential techniques of his artistic work. He works increasingly from the center of the picture carrier, while Jungwirth approaches the center from the sides of the picture, often leaving it free.
In the meantime, the works of both artists have been shown in numerous museum exhibitions and both Arnulf Rainer and Martha Jungwirth have been honored with important awards.