Once upon a time ... today

Exhibition view at Villa Mautner-Jäger, Wien 2023 © Leiko Ikemura and VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2023. Photo: Tom Wagner.

The group exhibition "Once upon a time.... today" takes place in the impressive rooms of the Villa Mautner-Jäger. The architecture of the building reflects the cultural heritage of the Viennese Belle Époche, of which the villa is an example. Its architect, Franz von Neumann, believed that past forms must be consistently developed to articulate architecture with contemporary forms. This idea is also followed by the curatorial line of the group exhibition "Once upon a time.... today".

Inspired by the extraordinary construction and the morbid charm of the interiors of the exhibition venue, the show revives the salon era of the 19th century. The selection of works focuses primarily on the genre of painting in its various facets. The participating artists share an international reputation, and most also share the generational experience of being born in the 1950s. Many of them established themselves in the 1980s by responding to the newly awakened "hunger for images" of the time with completely new subjects and painting styles.

From Theo Altenberg come abstract and color-intensive paintings that contrast with Herbert Brandl's atmospheric images of deep forest darkness and mysterious gulfs of mist. The nomadic, fragmentary work of Francesco Clemente is influenced by his many travels and allows insights into experiences, myths and stories from different cultural contexts. He is represented with large-scale paintings as well as intimate watercolors. Martha Jungwirth's distinctive powerfully impulsive approach between abstraction and figuration can be seen on canvas as well as on paper in the form of a large-scale watercolor. Haralampi Oroschakof's spiritually connoted search for identity emerges in various facets and in a calmer tone on canvas. Kerstin Grimm's surreal scenes are drawings full of fantastic details that define her work. They stand out against the luminous "soap-bubble paintings" of Georg Dokoupil, whose color spectrum in turn seems to refer to the floral large formats of Arne Quinze. The work of Arnulf Rainer is present through works on paper from the 1960s and a large mixed-media format from 2001. An exciting selection from three different groups of works by Julian Schnabel is shown. These are paintings on paper, including one of his "Map Drawings" from 2012.

"Once upon a time... today" also presents painterly aspects of contemporary photography in the form of exotic flower paintings by David LaChapelle. In addition, several sculptural works enrich the exhibition. Tony Cragg is represented with a homage to German reunification and Erwin Wurm with "Gate," a humorous play on altered human proportions and volumes. From media artist Hans Kuppelwieser comes the dynamic-abstract work in polished stainless steel, which thoughtfully contrasts the figurative of Leiko Ikemura's works on paper and her bronze "Usagi Greeting." The sculpture is a hybrid of human and animal, it forms a synthesis of cultures, a "house" under whose roof the universal and the unifying can find each other.

Artists: Theo Altenberg, Herbert Brandl, Francesco Clemente, Tony Cragg, Georg Dokoupil, Kerstin Grimm, Leiko Ikemura, Martha Jungwirth, Hans Kupelwieser, Julian Schnabel, Arnulf Rainer, Erwin Wurm, David LaChapelle, Haralampi Oroschakoff, Arne Quinze.

Curated by Reiner Opoku

Text: Charlotte Desaga

Source: Press Release


Villa Mautner-Jäger
Landstraßer Hauptstraße 140-142
1030 Wien