Heimo Zobernig

Heimo Zobernig

Kunsthalle Zürich

Heimo Zobernig
, “ohne Titel,” 2010
Polyester figure,
transparent mirror foil, steel, lamp
, 228 x 60 x 60 cm

January 12, 2011

Heimo Zobernig
“ohne Titel (in Red)”

15 January – 20 March 2011

Bärengasse 20-22
8001 Zurich
T +41 (0)44 272 15 15
F +41 (0)44 272 18 88
info [​at​] kunsthallezurich.ch


The Kunsthalle Zürich launches its exhibition season at the Museum Bärengasse—where it is based temporarily until June 2012 while work is carried out on the conversion and renovation of its permanent home at the Löwenbräu Areal—with the solo exhibition “ohne Titel (in Red)” by Heimo Zobernig (born 1958; lives and works in Vienna). This exhibition presents an artist who, based on a body of work produced since the 1980s, is viewed as a key figure on the Austrian art scene. Zobernig’s exhibition provides insight into an oeuvre that explores themes of minimalism, the historical loading of the opposing pair of “figurativeness vs. abstraction” and the problem as to what art is or can be, its outward form and function. In keeping with the rooms in the buildings of the Museum Bärengasse, which were constructed in 1670, the works selected for presentation—the exhibition includes 11 video works, cardboard and particle board objects created since 1985—focus on the topics of “furnishing” and “light” and play with the domesticated interior of the former residential buildings. Zobernig develops a specific lighting situation for the rooms of the Museum Bärengasse: he closes the shutters on the windows of the two early-Baroque houses and submerges the exhibition space in red by means of a light installation.

In the Lexikon der Kunst 1992 compiled by Heimo Zobernig and Ferdinand Schmatz, the term “innovation” features under the letter “I”. Schmatz refers to this again later and describes it as follows in reference to Zobernig’s work: “Innovation: H.Z’s work is not dominated by the compulsion for the new; instead the question as to what became a compulsion in art and how it is investigated.” Be it as a painter, stage designer, draughtsman, sculptor, architect, designer, catalogue and book designer, poet or author of theoretical works, Zobernig pursues this question in the widest possible variety of roles and thereby questions the traditional image of the artist. The areas in which Zobernig works are as varied as his roles and are always aimed at exploring formal and substantive potential: his work is located on the interface between sculpture, space, architecture and design.

Zobernig has been sounding out the possibilities of sculptural work since the early 1980s. His sculptures—geometric wall objects, façade-like reliefs, objects and sculptures created from abstract stereometric bodies which take the form of cubes, angles, columns, pedestals, podiums, movable walls and shelving—are made of cheap no-frills materials such as particle board, cardboard, linen, molton, Styrofoam, synthetic resin, emulsion paint, fluorescent tubes and other everyday building materials. The seeming banality and everyday nature of these materials is reinforced in the reduced functional appearance and standardised aesthetic of the objects they are used to create. The objects alternate between minimalist sculpture and functional objects, between works of art and everyday objects in the literal sense, between the attribution of meaning and function. Zobernig’s spare unadorned formal language is reminiscent of positions in minimal art—however, through conscious deviations, the artist breaks with the canon, the fetishism for fine materials, and offers ironic revision instead.

This strategy of reduction is also pursued by the artist in his video works: their presentation on black monitor boxes placed on white tables also lends a sculptural character to this medium. On a formal level the videos are characterized by static camera positions, the frequent equation of playing time and time played and the imperfect application of the chroma key technique. In terms of content, the video works are characterised by simple dramatic compositions, one-dimensional action strands and rudimentary costumes.

The artist, who was represented at documenta 9 (1992) and documenta 10 (1997), was the first Austrian artist to be honoured with the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts in 2010.

The exhibition Heimo Zobernig “ohne Titel (in Red)” is supported by Präsidialdepartement der Stadt Zürich, LUMA Foundation and Austrian Consulate General in Zurich.

Heimo Zobernig
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January 12, 2011

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