Maria Lassnig

13 Feb - 17 May 2009

© Maria Lassnig
(detail) Madonna of the Pastries, 2002
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist
"The Ninth Decade"

13 February - 17 May 2009
Opening: February 12, 2009–7.00 p.m.

Maria Lassnig is regarded as one of the most important contemporary artists. On the occasion of her 90th birthday the MUMOK is devoting a large solo show to her in which the emphasis is on the work of the last ten years. The large format paintings, some of which are being shown for the first time, substantiate the diversity and pre-eminent position of her late work which is characterised by intense colouration, vitality and unbroken inventiveness. Maria Lassnig's radical self-interrogation makes use of richly contrasting and expressive colouration as the expression of an irony that often borders on sarcasm. On the one hand her painting exhibits the uncompromising disclosure of her own body and feelings and on the other communicates the gaze from outside, thus enabling an apparently objective depiction of physical perceptions that exist simultaneously.
'It is certain that I do not paint and draw the object 'body' but that I do paint body feelings.'
Over the last few years Lassnig's work has developed, becoming ever more confrontational and direct and during this process the artist has brought earlier themes up to date and varied them. Thus in a series from the year 2000 in which she embraces and poses with guinea pigs, frogs, birds or apes she once again takes up the link between the human and the animal-like. In the 'Adam und Eva' pictures she has recourse to the nude drawing from her time at the academy and simultaneously thematises gender relationships as being tender/erotic as well as aggressive/hostile. In the 'Kellerbildern' she encases models in plastic sheeting in order to feel the body differently and to interpret the situations psychologically. In her new work Lassnig also makes connections with the line drawings of the 1960s, linking her 'drawing with a brush' together with encoded surreal and also light-heartedly burlesque content in way that is formally very reduced.
'The external world impinges on one so much nowadays that in reality one cannot depict anything else. So I make pictures of the imagination and the memory.'
Over the last few years Maria Lassnig has made a definitive international breakthrough. The artist is rightly regarded by the succeeding generation as a pioneer and visionary who has been crucially influencing the discourse and development of painting for decades.

Wolfgang Drechsler

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