where words end and eternity begins …
Artworks by Leopold Strobl, Michel Nedjar, Augusta Walla, George Widener and Oswald Tschirtner are on display at the gugging gallery (near Vienna) until February 27, 2022.
This exhibition curated by Irina Katnik features artworks by Gugging artists as well as other international art brut artists.
After a troubled childhood and a turbulent adolescence, August Walla was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was finally admitted - along with his mother - to the Gugging hospital, near Vienna, in 1970. Resident of the Haus der Künstler (house of artists), he will remain there for the rest of his life. Expressing himself through photography, installation, diversion of objects and typing of manifestos, writing and drawing have become inseparable in his work. A key figure in art brut, collected by David Bowie, Walla is present in a number of collections around the world, including those of the MoMa (New York) or the Milwaukee Art Museum (Wisconsin).
O.T. - as he signed - was an emblematic artist of the Gugging hospital, where he was interned because of the psychosis he began to suffer upon returning from the siege of Stalingrad. His drawings, antitheses of the horror vacui, are characterized by their minimalism, the purity, the economy of means and effects, the sense of balance and space. Admired by Michel Thévoz, who devoted several feature articles to him, he also fascinated David Bowie and Brian Eno, who met and collected him. His works can be found in countless collections, such as those of Arnulf Rainer (Austria), abcd/Bruno Decharme (France) or the Pinacothèque Hervé Lancelin (Luxembourg).
He is the most widely exhibited and published living art brut artist, yet the extraordinary trajectory of this Frenchman raises a question that is rarely addressed: that of the impermanence of art brut. Discovered by Jean Dubuffet at a time when he was working on the resurgence of the symbolic body, he allowed himself to become the protean artist we know and who, in his creation, embodies absolute freedom. His work can be found in countless collections, and he was the first artist brut to enter the collections of the Musée national d’art moderne (Pompidou). Exhibited at the Monnaie de Paris, the Albertina Museum and the Mona, Michel Nedjar has been the subject of nine monographic exhibitions.
A former U.S. Air Force technician, chronically depressed and antisocial, it is only when he reached his thirties that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. His syndrome is characterized by an eidetic memory that allows him to insert in his works a lot of data, especially encrypted, relating to his favorite subjects. Time, magic squares, the Titanic, and fictional megalopolises are among the recurring themes of his drawings. Present, among others, in the collections of the Smithsonian (Washington), his art has been shown at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris, in the cult exhibition Le Bord des Mondes or in Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery in London. In 2024, it will be exhibited at Lafayette Anticipations (Paris).
Attending the Gugging workshop (Austria) for the past ten years, he finds in creation a comfort and redemption, a way to keep his mental demons at bay. His small-format colored pencil drawings, crafted on landscape photographs found in newspapers, are similar to magnetic portals. Graphite contaminates the scenery as if to reveal its strangeness. Present in the collections of the MoMa (New York) since 2018, his work was presented the following year in the exhibition Photo Brut at the Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles.