Scary, dead people & more...

At the Galleries: Oct. 2009

On The Town | Michael Buergermeister | October 2009

An Indian woman, her head tilted back, draws open a curtain to reveal her smiling son, Russian corpses are photographed in a Moscow morgue and dressed up in power clothes, a huge wire head is presented by a Spaniard, a Polish girl estimates how many bars of soap she can get. 

Nobody can accuse the Viennese gallery scene of being either provincial or of avoiding tough topics. Of course Vienna has its fair share of galleries which play safe and present either local matadors or simply boring art, but there is currently a hint of risk in the air, despite the heavy indent of the crisis, which bodes well for the future.

Watch this space for visits to selected galleries each month. 


Galerie Knoll – AES+F -Defile 

Tucked among the shops of the Gumpendorferstraße, not far removed from Café Sperl, the dark, narrow space of gallery Knoll is currently lit by what at a glance looks like neon advertisement boxes with life-sized figures elegantly attired in white, red and purple dresses, mauve wraps and shawls or dandified silk shirts, violet jackets and leopard-skin coats.

The figures might well be life-sized but they are not alive. The models are dumb, their mouths gape, their eyes are sunken or closed, their hair tangled or shaved off, their skin waxen and purple stained, their feet arched as if suspended in the air; one even has a rough scar where she was stitched back together again. Based on photographs made in a Moscow morgue the clothes were put on with the help of computer animation.

For some this exhibition by the Moscow based group: AES+F: Tatianne Arzamasov, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and Vladimir Fridkes, all of whom were born in Moscow in the 1950s, is simply too much but for others it is incredibly powerful. It is little surprise that these works, made in 2007, created such a stir at the Vienna Art Fair.

Galerie Knoll

Hans Knoll

6., Gumpendorferstraße 18

Tue.-Fri. 14.00-19.00, Sat. 11.00-15.00

(01) 587 5052


Maurio Mauroner – Jaume Plensa 

The large, generous space of the Maurio Mauroner gallery, on Weihburggasse, with its high ceilings and tall windows, invites grand gestures, and it is grand gestures which currently many Spanish and Catalan artists, such as Susan Solana, seem willing and able to make. Jaume Plensa, born in Barcelona in 1955, also dares to do so. Pulling open the heavy metallic door of the gallery one nearly walks into the ear of a huge subtly lit sculpture made of wire, an impressive head, with a gently curving eye, nose and mouth.

An optimist might read into it echoes of universality and eternity, a pessimist might see it as the symbol of the human mind as a vast and empty cage. Close to the windows a large figure, composed of metallic capital letters, kneels. The letters spread out around him as if the man himself had begun to dissolve upon contact with the floor.

Not far removed is another head, composed of white letters, whose shadow creates delicate, overlapping patterns on the floor. Whether visionary or not, the beauty of the work lies in its ambition; it is not frightened of big questions or size.

Mario Mauroner

Contemporary Art Vienna

Weihburggasse 26,

(01) 904 2004


Galerie Charim – Agnes Janich – Man to Man

Galerie Charim can be found on the first floor of an old palace in the Dorotheergasse, once reputedly a centre of freemasonry. Upon walking into the high ceilinged reception area, the ears are assaulted by the sound of barking dogs, making the heart beat faster – until, that is, reason kicks in. All that can be found in the first, brightly lit room are square bars of soap – 21 pieces bearing the name of the artist: Agnes Janich, born in Lodz in 1985, while the remaining 76 bars bear the carved names of her friends.

The barking sounds come from behind the black curtain in the adjacent room and become more menacing as one approaches. Ferocious fangs, vicious snarls and wild wagging tails greet those who dare enter the black labyrinth. Thankfully, the dogs are barred by fences and are merely projected onto video screens. Their bark is indeed worse than their bite.

In the last and largest of the rooms, with windows overlooking the Jewish Museum, are photographs from Auschwitz of a boy with his arm raised in Hitler salute, a Wehrmacht officer with his children and piles of limbs that assault the eye.

Charim Galerie Wien, Prop. Miriam Charim

1., Dorotheergasse 12/1

Tue.-Fri. 11.00-18.00

Sat. 11.00-14.00

(01) 512 0915

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