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Herbert Brandl, Franz West, Otto Zitko

May 09 – June 04, 1990


These three like-minded but independent Austrian artists investigate and re-affirm their personal and psychological selves through distinctly different mediums and styles of painting, drawing, and sculpture. They are representative of a current generation of Austrian artists mindful of the rich tradition and correlation of Austrian art and psychology, and such heroic figures as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Anton Mesmer, Herman Nitzsche, Arnulf Rainer, and Egon Schiele.

Herbert Brandl's thick, tortured paintings celebrate the purely physical properties of paint and evidence a catharsis of the artist's emotions and thought processes. The pits and crags of Brandl's excruciated surfaces reveal a wide range of colors and textures beneath their monochromatic surfaces, and symbolically suggest that darker and more violent moods are seething and buried under their benign and resolved veneers. Thus Brandl's paintings are as beautiful as they are purgatorical, as blatantly sensuous as they are psychologically suggestive.

Otto Zitko's artworks are equally expressive but more spontaneous and mirthful than Brandl's. Alternately scratchy, cloudy, hash-marked, swirling, murky, and darkly colorful, Zitko's drawings boldy capture intense and short-lived feelings and moments in such symbols as whirlpools, birds, people, and ducks, or in more abstract, purely lyrical images. Zitko's drawings are quick and pleasing, richly controlled and condensed, visual limericks and sonnets that exalt in their material immediacy and refinement.

Franz West's sculptures are the most literally and symbolically human, often taking the form of or referring to furniture and body parts. West combines the textural and structural differences of steel, plaster, fabric, paint, wire, and gold to make oddly animated and anthropomorphic chairs and tables, or extremely colorful and textural panels and appendages which insinuate if not literally represent the human body. West's sculptures ultimately merge and confuse furniture with the human body, and comment on how the inanimate objects that we make to accomodate our functional and aesthetic needs inevitably adopt human characteristics and forms.

All three artists share an interest in the pure physicality of traditional art materials and forms, and th powerful, yet mute feelings that skillful and thoughtful execution of these materials can emanate. One's physical experience and relationship to the artworks takes precedence over any predominantly linguistic or theoretical illustration or interpretation.

Author: Joe Scanlan
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