Monday, April 18, 2011


April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

T.S. Elliot The Waste Land

T.S. Elliot

It would be convenient if tough days were confined soley to an already difficult month. I am would be willing to sacrifice February for this very purpose - to reserve for malaise and malady. But what actually happens is you get a disaster here, a loss there and the next thing you know the whole damn year is flecked with existential crisis and bleak anniversaries. Even April gets blemished, but of course, T.S. Elliot already told us that in the first lines of his modernist masterpiece, The Waste Land.

I had been thinking about the poet is relation to other people suffering as I left the house to view the galleries. Luckily at the end of the day I left these galleries still believing that making art matters. (Litmus test #1: check.) I also thought that maybe all art can be extracted from a few lines in T.S. Elliot.

So of course, the first show I walk into is….

Daniel Domig @ Winiarzyk

Till human voices wake us and we drown the last line in the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot, and the title of the exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Daniel Domig at the recently re-opened Winiarzyk Galerie. In some of these paintings there is a figurative longing, emasculating darkness and repetition that echoes themes by the poet. The large dark sculpture constructed in three segments is a clever screen with some strong small paper cutouts hung onto it.

Gallerist Winiarzyk infront of works by Daniel Domig

The show as a whole however suffers from a clumsy overhanging and some editing and rearranging could have really highlighted the stellar works that Domig has made.

Stone Soup by Julie Ryan

I spent a summer doing a series of drawings called Stone Soup. And I have had dinner parties cooked around the concept as well as a performance of Stone Soup for Varietas Delactat exhibition in Graz last October. The reason I mention this is that the Bernadette Corporation exhibition at Meyer Kainer is called Stone Soup, so I was immediately interested. (Cue: navel gazing.)

Bernadette Corporation @ Meyer Kainer

The truth is I know one of the BC people from Paris who is brilliant and articulate so I was already curious to see the show. But admittedly when I first heard that Bernadette Corporation and Reena Spaulings were having an exhibition at Meyer Kainer Galerie I thought it was a mismatch. Bernadette Corporation and Reena Spaulings (the person, the place, the novel, the idea, the fiction, the magazine, the movies, the reality) typify coolness, which may be uncool to say – but they are that - and in Vienna there is no equivalent to this particular type of coolness. Sound like a fight or some anti-Wien rhetoric? Well it’s not. And if anyone wants to debate this all I can say is go to any opening at Reena Spaulings Fine Art  and then go to any opening at any gallery in Vienna and you’ll know what I am talking about. “Oh, Hello there eminent rock star.” “Woops, excuse me for stepping on your toes famous author/painter/bon vivant/mixologist/lion tamer.” “Why Yes! That dress I own really does look better on the model who wore it in the magazine.”

Reena Spaulings @ Meyer Kainer
The show is one to see and a full review of Bernadette Corporation and Reena Spaulings is being readied for publication and I will post the link when it is done!

So onward….
Marzena Nowak @ Galerie Mezzanin

Roll out the red carpet! On second thought just toss down a piece of it. My first impression upon entering Marzena Nowak’s exhibition at Galerie Mezzanin was “Huh, this might be interesting (withhold judgement Julie!)” The first impulse was because of the dark chair railing hung around the room and the oddly shaped and off-grain slip of oriental carpeting on the floor: interesting. The self- admonishment that followed was because the carpet just looked so poorly constructed in a non-purposeful way. In photos it looks a little better, in the gallery it looks lumpy and cheap. But it was provoking and full of promise.

Marzena Nowak @ Galerie Mezzanin
That promise immediately died when faced with a room full of busy-work needlepoint paintings that instead of reflecting back on the craft or contour of the carpet ends up scattered and static. Like two completely different shows. (If there was a video it wasn’t on and I missed it.)

Gabriel Sierra @ Galerie Martin Janda
At Martin Galerie Martin Janda  the Colombian artist Gabriel Sierra mounted a show dealing with geometric figuration and limitation. Gallery walls are dropped and corners tinkered with to playfully, yet observantly, explore the circle, the square and the triangle. Here is a smart and worthwhile show.

Christian Hutzinger @ Galerie Martin Janda
Downstairs at Martin Janda is the playful geometric abstractions of Christian Hutzinger in his second exhibition at the gallery. 

Despina Stokou @ Krobath
Krobath showed several large and small scale mixed media works by Berlin based artist and curator Despina Stokou. The works combine multiple layers of cut out text and paint resulting in illuminated written works that are actually interesting to read. This playful seriousness and deft hand at texture building is evident though out the exhibition. And the “Dear Gallery” letter on the wall is….well, the letter every artist has written (if only in their heads). Rock on.

Gaylen Gerber @ Pro Choice

Gaylen Gerber @ Pro Choice

Recommended exhibitions also includes Gaylen Gerber at Pro Choice Galerie and a walk around Vienna at dusk to check out the permanent installation by Olafur Eliasson at the Verbund, Am Hof.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot

Yellow Fog by Olafur Eliasson daily at dusk @ Verbund, Am Hof 6a 

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