Critics’ Picks

View of “Nemesims,” 2012.


Markus Muntean and Adi Rosenblum

Georg Kargl Fine Arts
Schleifmühlgasse 5
May 11–June 20

Walking into the main room of Muntean/Rosenblum’s exhibition “Nemesims” is like walking into a television or film set; there are the plastic-looking walls of a grey house without a roof, an empty door frame for an entrance, a bedroom with a cozy-seeming wooden bed, and a small front yard, but no camera. This set, along with three smaller installations, is based on the video game The Sims, a life-simulation game where players maintain stasis and increase the happiness of a suburban family by providing them with more and more consumer goods, including artworks. For its part, this exhibition seeks to gratify viewers’ aesthetic sensibilities while also engaging them in an interactive experience much like a video game.

Markus Muntean and Adi Rosenblum’s trademark paintings of despondent youths—works that combine images modeled on fashion magazines like Vogue with pithy texts—have become perhaps too familiar in their sly critique of the culture from which they arise. But here, placed in an updated setting, the pieces regain their critical bite. By implicitly likening art (including Muntean and Rosenblum’s own) to consumer products, the paintings question, in a newly broad and fresh way, the idea that happiness is attainable through consumption of any sort.

Two new series of works, a set of collages and another of quasi-Constructivist small paintings with integrated text, join the older style paintings, as well as over twenty works from other artists, including four sculptures by Josef Pillhofer and two abstract works by Herbert Hinteregger. Curation is nothing new for Muntean/Rosenblum—during the 1990s they curated an off-space in Vienna—and here they have managed to select works that fit seamlessly together and function neatly as placeholders in an ever-changing arena of desired goods. Even if we can’t keep up with the Simses, walking through the exhibition thinking we can is just plain fun.