donkey balancing on a tennis ball

WAF galerie / Wiener Art Foundation

Christian Rothwangl

donkey balancing on a tennis ball

Opening: wednesday, 16.06.2021 | 6-10 pm

Exhibition: 17.06.-15.07.2021

Schadekgasse 6-8, 1060 Wien


Christian Rothwangl

Christian Rothwangl

donkey balancing on a tennis ball

Everything you need to know, right now, enclosed in an aspect ratio of one to the square root of two: 210 by 297 millimetres. Christian Rothwangl begins with reams of blank A4 sheets and a limited selection of pigmented ink washes. He generates multitudes of sketches, in which abstraction appears as an intimate tussle between figures of naturalistic familiarity – the landscape, the hand, the donkey – and the fluid medium. Bound up in their standardised, A4 format, the resulting images are the crystallisations of a habit: the productive nonconscious, crystal formation, the artist’s own body, slow training and imitation, the creative in the technical, the machinic in the creative.

In the transposition from paper to canvas, Christian retains the initial compositions and imagery as blueprints for an expanded, painterly production. The process by which he re-makes his sketches on another surface is almost mechanical; he describes himself as his own assistant. First, he draws out dark frames around the picture-planes-to-be, which are then primed for painting. The stretched canvas is thus re-formed into a Träger of Bildträgern, to become a mise en short-circuited abyme that always loops back to Christian’s original ink sketches. And yet, this labour of re-making is also a dynamic of re-interpretation. And like the best literary translations, which cannot be judged according to some tired, heteronormative notion of ‘fidelity’, Christian’s paintings are infused with intimacy for their subject matter – they recite, in their own terms, dreams mumbled into the pillowcase after a long and restless night.

Exhibition view, Kunstbuero Vienna 2019, photo: Philipp Pess

The reverie takes off again, just above our eyelines: tracing a halo over our heads, following an interminable assembly line, or perhaps even unfolding a narrative, like a classical frieze on the interior walls of a great temple. The lines that Christian re-creates in acrylic paint have to be insistent if they will ever get their point to us, down here. The Tusche washes, however, seem to disperse, exposing one another to our scattered gaze. The interplay of lines with these unsettled surfaces is another example of the recursivity with which the works find their way: looping mechanical processes of non-mechanical re-production; poetic communication through the mute standardisation of the Deutsches Institut für Normung; abstracting the figurative and figuring the abstract. In his work (as his own assistant), Christian performs contradictions that disrupt binaries in ways neither positive nor negative. There is no sublimation, only complication, and the result would lead me to believe that differentiation through re-iteration is the only worthwhile feedback, in the end.

Text by Miriam Stoney

*1993 in Bruck an der Mur AT

2013-19 Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien AT

2017 Slade School of Fine Art London GB

2019/20 ASA Stipenium HfBK Hamburg GER

lebt und arbeitet in Wien  lives and works in Vienna AT

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