From March 29, 2014, ZEIT KUNST NIEDERÖSTERREICH shows the first comprehensive retrospective dedicated to the artist Hermann J. Painitz. Presented in the Shedhalle of the Landesmuseum Niederösterreich in St. Pölten, the exhibition “Self-Evident” will highlight the special character of Painitz’s both manifold and uncompromising oeuvre committed to an analytic formalist mode of production in a survey encompassing the artist’s most important work groups from the 1960s to the present.
Born in Vienna in 1938, Hermann J. Painitz set out on his career as an artist in the 1960s with pictures and sculptures which, based on chains of numbers and uniform colored elements, deal with such subjects as sequence, rhythm, and series. In the vein of a “logical” art, the works follow inherent laws visualized by individual systems of signs and manifesting themselves in “object alphabets” or encoded text pictures.
Painitz’s understanding of his practice as an artist is decisively informed by the (language) philosophy of the Vienna Circle and a conceptual approach primarily concerned with the development of a new pictorial language and the abandonment of all individual arbitrariness: “A picture is a diagram for unalterable systems of order.” (Hermann J. Painitz) In the 1970s, Painitz started working on his “Statistical Portraits,” which were influenced by Otto Neurath’s “Vienna Method of Pictorial Statistics.” Like Neurath who strove to represent complex social relationships in a simple and graphic manner that could be understood by everyone, Painitz came to dedicate himself to visualizing circumstances that were not visible in the world of things by means of diagrams, pictograms, and organigrams or to designing new visual codes replacing familiar signs. This finally led him to create alphabets that substitute certain objects for the letters. In the artist’s “Bread Alphabet” from 1975, for instance, each letter corresponds to a baked good of a specific form. Painitz has even translated the features of various birds into an abstract system of signs according to certain criteria established by him in a work group of the same name. This is why deciphering is a key dimension when it comes to adequately assessing his work.
Yet the artist’s activities were not restricted to the production of works of art alone. Painitz also wrote numerous theoretical texts, like his dadaistically tinged manifestos, his serial
poems, and exhibition concepts developed especially in his years as president of the Vienna Secession from 1977 to 1983. Particularly focusing on works dating from the 1960s and 1970s, the exhibition curated by Alexandra Schantl offers the first representative survey of Painitz’s production that also considers his manifestos, unrealized pictorial concepts, and designs for works in public space. Confronting his notations with his realized works elucidates his methodical attitude.
A catalogue analyzing Painitz’s oeuvre along scholarly and art historical lines for the first time will be forthcoming to accompany the exhibition.
(text fully taken from Zeitkunst Niederösterreich)