Peter Kapeller, born in Vienna in 1969, slowly, meticulously, puts his obsessions in order. He ruminates much, produces little. At the very most a few drawings per year, intensely dark and dense, in which his his impulses, phantoms, revolts and hopes are deposited - layer by layer. Until everything is burried.
In the darkness of his small, sparsely furnished room, he lays out a whole intimate journal in his works, in the style of shadow theater. He doesn’t leave anything there that is totally bare, nothing is “put on display”; for dead ends and regrets emerge, and at every turn one must make his way through the obscurity of sense in order to reach the author.
In examining these snippets of his insomnia, we hang on to scraps of sentences, silhouettes emerging from an entanglement of lines, glimmers and colorings arranged in this tumult or overtaken by this ocean of ink. Names are also there showing that Kapeller is a lucid observer - for lack of being a completely separate actor - in the cultural landscape of his country: we run into Elfriede Jelinek, sister in suffering, Thomas Bernard, brother in spirit or Herman Nitsch, abhorred “bastard.”
The work of Peter Kapeller is the harrowing testimony of a man who is intimately, viscerally convinced that art saves him. And, for this process to be complete, he makes us bare witness to this “work in the dark.” For, as Claire Margat wrtites, “only an inextinguishable desire to chronicle this fight for survival, only the tenacious effort to offer a glimpse of it in the opaque form of sheets of paper blackened with ink on which fragments of discourse and amputated figures appear here and there, as if to give a face to the nothingness that surrounds them, makes him hold on: for he manages to maintain the logbook of this permanent collapse in spite of everything.”
After the exhibit that Chris Dercon organized on him at the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2010, this is his first monographic exhibit in a gallery.
Peter Kapeller was forced to abandon his studies for a planned career in heating engineering following a severe mental health crisis. His care was taken over by Austria’s social services who provided Kapeller with a tiny shared flat in Vienna. The apartment was decorated with the bare minimum of furniture: a bed, a cupboard, a shelf, and a table. “I draw in my ghetto”, he explains. The artist draws in the quiet hours of darkness, spending his time meditating and reminiscing. The books he has read and his past studies provide rich source material for his art which occasionally take the form of protest letters aimed at the administration in charge of his care. The strength of the works […]
Preface : Claire Margat
Forewords : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Peter Kapeller : the blackening, from december 9th, 2014 to january 24th, 2015.