The Kunsthalle Krems dedicates a comprehensive retrospective to Marta Jungwirth (b. 1940), the great loner on the Austrian art scene. The show will be presenting works from five decades.
After studies at the Vienna Academy of Applied Arts from 1956 to 1963, she first came to public notice with works that used different techniques—pencil drawings, watercolors, and works in oils and ink. Early on, she received awards such as the “Theodor- Körner-Preis” (1964) or the “Joan Miró Prize” (1967). In 1968, she was the only was the only female artist to become a founding member of loose group of artists who called themselves “Wirklichkeiten” (“Realities”). At that time, however, Jungwirth had already taken her own independent and idiosyncratic path with paintings oscillating between gestural abstraction and representational compositions.
Thematically, her work of drawing initially revolved around women’s sociocultural environment. Cycles entitled “Housewife Machines” or “The Black Kitchen” might be suggestive of a feminist approach, but Jungwirth was rather fascinated with the internal workings of everyday gadgets, inspired not least by the austerity of Mies van der Rohe’s architectural drawings. With these drawings of household appliances that looked like X-rays, she first came into the focus of the international art scene at the 1977 documenta 6 in Kassel. Aside from everyday objects, another source of inspiration or, as the artist puts it, a “pretext” for capturing personal visual impressions in drawing are real subjects like cityscapes or landscapes. Jungwirth’s works are always based on real-life situations that she encounters and that work as a stimulus, providing a visual experience which informs her creative process. Her goal is never mere reconstruction of, but always a reflection on, reality.
Creating from her own experience, she captures reflections of humanness in the image with a combination of energetic spontaneity and simultaneous aesthetic self-control. Within this multiple polarity between gesture, form, trace, and color, Jungwirth examines basic painterly principles, which is tantamount to continual open-ended experimentation: following spontaneous inspirations, she energetically places marks on canvas or paper, which then become elusive again by being layered, overlapped or blurred, putting—through this ambivalent act of revealing and concealing—the image field in motion and, simultaneously, in a state of levitation. Her resolute working process remains traceable, nothing is covered up or embellished; on the contrary, the accidental and the energetically intuitive remain visible with all corrections, spots, streaks, and trickles, creating an atmosphere of openness, lightness, and transparence.
Distinguished by their eruptive gestural stroke and strong colors, Jungwirth’s characteristic compositions are poetic and dramatic notations of experiences, moods, and memories, abstracted to a degree that leaves room for a free flow of associations.
Curator: Hans-Peter Wipplinger
(text source: Kunsthalle Krems)