David Misteli

  • picks April 28, 2021

    Richard Jaray

    We can’t escape history, but it can leave us behind. Born in 1902, Richard Jaray belonged to a Jewish furniture dynasty that had won the distinction of “k. u. k. Hoflieferant” (purveyor to the Habsburg court). He stayed behind when his younger brother, together with his wife and daughter, fled Nazi Vienna in 1938. Unable to follow in time, Richard was deported to the Łódź ghetto in 1941 and eventually murdered by the Nazis. This small but considerate presentation displays what traces remain of him today: a few personal documents and a selection from a bundle of roughly seventy works on paper.

  • picks April 12, 2021

    Elizabeth Orr

    Elizabeth Orr’s exhibition “The Over There” is about perception: The artist wants to separate architectural elements from their ordinary context, thereby relieving them of their typical function and transforming the viewer’s impression of them. In the show, this strategy of defamiliarization is realized quite effectively. Individual pieces appear lost and lonely, isolated on one wall each. However, if this curatorial decision highlights the spatial effects of decontextualization, it also serves to bring each individual work into focus.

    The objects on display can be divided into two categories.

  • picks March 01, 2021

    Thea Moeller

    “Beach Road Scissors” at Wonnerth Dejaco, the latest addition to Vienna’s gallery scene, features eleven sculptures by German artist Thea Moeller, who utilizes prefabricated steel elements typically used in construction. Made from iron, steel’s reputation has capitalized in art and popular culture alike on its toughness and durability (think: the adamantine majesty of a Richard Serra installation, or Balls of Steel). Moeller’s practice reveals this as a misconception, embracing the astonishing malleability of this supposedly unwavering material to produce nuanced, playful forms freed from

  • Helmut Federle

    A sense of balance pervades Helmut Federle’s painting: a masterful push and pull of opposing pictorial means that demands our attention from the outset without ever fully gratifying it. The artist’s large canvases are marked by the precision of objective geometrical forms that he infuses with the subjectivity of his tender gestural brushstroke and the absorptive quality of his diluted and mixed color. Take, for instance, Untitled (No Bild) (No Picture), 1986, in which the hard edges of six black rectangles on a yellow-green ground contrast with the gentle, washed quality of the paint. The

  • Knut Ivar Aaser

    The center of Knut Ivar Aaser’s exhibition “Bordskikk” (Table Manners) was occupied by a miniature wooden table, about an inch and a quarter high, called Untitled (all works 2019). A bright surface of sanded maple set the table apart from the oily shine of the gallery’s herringbone parquet floor, and the combination of richness of detail with diminutive scale let it oscillate between the categories of furniture and toy. Three tiny clothespins were scattered over its surface, as if they had been dropped accidentally. These unobtrusive miniature objects appealed to the imagination, inviting viewers

  • Lisa Holzer

    This exhibition, “I come in you,” featured the combination of pictures and text for which Lisa Holzer has become well known. In total, fifteen works from two series—“The Party Sequel (Berlin)” and “The Party Sequel (Paris),” both 2017—were exhibited together with a pair of posters bearing a text with the auspicious title I cry., 2018. I USED TO CRY A LOT AT PARTIES, Holzer admits in the text, and along with her works’ titles the statement seems to sum up what the exhibition was about: parties and crying.

    And yet, was there a party at all? The “Party Sequels” are two series of large

  • Liesl Raff

    The works in Liesl Raff’s recent show “Maximal Soft” promised to transform and mollify the unfeeling hardness of the materials of heavy industry. Typically, this meant making them anthropomorphic: The two large almond-shaped steel-plate tables at the front of the room, for example, titled Eyes 1 and Eyes 2, both 2018, had steel irises mounted on a lazy Susan, and on their rims were rows of slag, dripping plasma-cut tears of steel. Similarly, three wall-hung pieces, Head 1–3, all 2017, were constructed from bent and unevenly cut sheet steel. Their anthropomorphic appeal was underlined by their