Critics’ Picks

View of “Complexity, Contradiction, and a Decorated Shed,” 2017.

View of “Complexity, Contradiction, and a Decorated Shed,” 2017.


“Complexity, Contradiction, and a Decorated Shed”

Significant Other
Burggasse 24
July 17–October 8, 2017

This concise exhibition inaugurates a project space in Vienna that aims to introduce the richness of architectural theory to perspectives on contemporary art. This goal is evident in the title of the show, which references two books by Robert Venturi, namely Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas (the latter co-authored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour).

A selection of drawings by Josef Dabernig, made between 1974 and 2017, testifies to his lifelong engagement with architecture. Three of these examples from 1974 and 1975 were created in response to trips to Italy when the artist was a teenager. Though visibly naive and unaccomplished, indicating a strong influence of expressionism instead of the sophisticated reduction of his mature works, they nevertheless reveal his attention to facades and details, which he later developed into a substantial oeuvre. The show also includes A study of the relationships between black, white, and other aspects (spatial intervention), 2017, for which he painted all the surfaces of the gallery where an artwork cannot be hung (doors, fuse box, floor, etc.) in dark gray. The effect emanates the clear architectural intentionality of a planned space while accentuating the white walls that support artworks.

Aleksandra Vajd and Jimena Mendoza collaborated to produce the neon sign on the gallery’s exterior (Dámy, 2017), which depicts two abstract female figures. With its elegant design invoking Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus logo, this sculpture complements Dabernig’s presentation, fashioning a decidedly modernist-influenced aesthetic statement. Moreover, Vajd and Mendoza intentionally left the graffiti-covered entrance of the building untouched. It is a striking contrast with the impeccably renovated interior, producing an intriguing dialogue between inside and outside.