29 October 2018

Cherry-Picking: viennacontemporary 2018

Adam Mazur
viennacontemporary 2018 / courtesy of viennacontemporary (phot. A. Murashkin)
Cherry-Picking: viennacontemporary 2018
viennacontemporary 2018 / courtesy of viennacontemporary (phot. A. Murashkin)
Art galleries from Central Europe inaugurate their season. Berlin, Warsaw and Vienna are capitals representing as distinct as specific artistic scenes. The competition is going on a grand scale.

In Vienna, the format of curated exhibitions presented in galleries (curated_by) scattered around the city has proved its success. The viennacontemporary art fair also did a good job. Below we present moments worth remembering by the Internet.

Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt, courtesy of viennacontemporary

The director crying at the conference is indeed an unusual event. The resignation from the position  of the artistic director of the viennacontemporary by Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt marks the end of some important chapter in the history of the fair. Chapter, which was not only artistically interesting but also successful with regards to the business field. We wake up tears of emotion, we wait in suspense, wondering what’s next. However Dmitry Aksenov does not indicate the successor yet and he vaguely talks about online art trade.

Thaddeus Ropac Gallery, courtesy of viennacontemporary
Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, courtesy of viennacontemporary

The fairs are uneven. They reflect the scale of purchasing possibilities of clients who are looking for art that will suit the office, the hallway and the living room, or perhaps something for the garden. Thaddeus Ropac attracts potential buyers with Georg Baselitz’s texture, Robert Lon’s rose, a small painting of Arnulf Rainer. In other words, classics are never enough. Significantly rather in a decorative version than a political one. One should admit that Marxhalle is not Kunsthaus Wien.

Compared with the other local galleries, Konzett Gallerie with a refreshing mix of works by Otto Muehl, Miroslav Tichy, and Rudolf Polanszky comes out best. It is a cliché, but in Vienna one can not miss the actionists. Hermann Nitsch bleeds beautifully at the exhibition stand of Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman. In some cases, like the one of Christine König, it is better to quit the art fair and go to the gallery to see a real exhibition presented in the cycle curated_by (in the case of Konig show is done by Daniel Muzyczuk).

Lisa Kandlhofer Gallery, courtesy of viennacontemporary (phot. kunst-dokumentation.com)
Baril Gallery, courtesy of viennacontemporary (phot. kunst-dokumentation.com)

The most impressive exhibition stands were presented in the section, whose curator was Victoria Dejaco. Well done. “Zone 1” is something like the first class, compared to which the rest seems like a vain stall. The prize for the best stand was awarded to Nana Mandl represented by Galerie Lisa Kandlhofer. A really nice thing. A big plus for the creative development of the concept of art fair art, zombie of formalism and of postinternets. As for the BLOK magazine, we award the prize to the BARIL gallery from Cluj. A subtle exhibition of Sasha Auerbakh’s objects.

Focus: Armenia / courtesy of viennacontemporary

This year, the special guest was Armenia. Yet, the title “Dreaming Alive” certainly did not help the show. Armenia is a failure, unfortunately. Buried Alive. This is an example of how marginal, skittish and miserable art can be. Maybe it’s a consequence of a shallow research carried out by Stona Stepanyan, the curator of this section. Maybe Viktor Misiano would finally find something interesting in Armenia, but you can not be sure.

Paulis Liepa / courtesy of MAXLA XO Gallery
Jiri David / courtesy of Zahorian & van Espen Gallery
Alex Urban / courtesy of Leto Gallery

Vienna means primarily Central Europe. Thus there is not single gallery from the USA in Marxhalle, yet we can find one from the UK, one from China and one from Korea. Surprisingly there are as many as ten from Hungary. What then do galleries from the region present? When it comes to our network, the best is Zahorian & van Espen, and the installation made of vases and meat by Jiri David is an excellent joke. Paulis Liepa, which works were presented by MAKSLA XO Galerija from Riga, keeps having the run of good luck. It’s great that Ani Molnar presents works of Tamas Waliczky, whose apparatus reflects the problems of the Hungarian scene. However the paintings by David Krnansky, exhibited by the Warsaw Leto Gallery, are really excellent.

There is also a queer painting by Łukasz Korolkiewicz at the stand of Galeria Monopol and a astonishing paintings by Mihael Milunovic on the exhibition stand of the RIMA gallery from Belgrade, which makes its debut at the fair.

Aljoscha Panspermia / photo BLOK

Last but not least we feel obliged to choose the worst work presented at art fair. Here the choice is not difficult – installation by Aljoscha Panspermia. Admittedly it’s hard to forget a plastic ejaculation reaching the not-so-low ceiling of the exhibition hall at Marxhalle.


Exhibitionviennacontemporary 2018
Dates26–29 September 2019

See also