Siegfried Anzinger

Galerie Naechst St. Stephen

In the carousel of new art focused on painting, Austrian work has not weighed as heavily as that of the Italians, the Germans, and the Swiss. But one Austrian artist, Siegfried Anzinger, is striking. Anzinger, at age 30 a representative of the younger generation in art, is not one of the driving forces of the new scene; he is, perhaps, less an innovator than a developer of ideas. As such, though, his intensity is such that he is surely among the more remarkable of the new European painters.

Moving between anarchy and poetry in terms of content and form, Anzinger’s vigorous painting displays the agitated field of an agitated mind. In it we find the pictorial symbols of human pleasure and destruction, of brute drive and erotic strife, with which many of his contemporaries are concerned; here they mostly take the form of the human body—ragged, tortured figures standing without real support, puzzling schemata lost in a wildly painted surface. Sometimes they crouch, sometimes stand, sometimes plunge headfirst into the abyss. One large painting—not the best here, perhaps, but clear in its statement—shows on the right a quite desolate human figure; to the left, inaccessible, is an oversized red heart. The cerebral being duels with the overwhelming but alienated source of passion and sense; the struggle is reduced to comic triviality.

In their basic mood the paintings share the exhausting and exhausted attitude of which the new art provides many examples. In the act of painting the artistic subject tumbles into unfathomable though never clearly discernible depths, abounding in fear and pleasure, danger and desire. Anzinger, however, tells no stories of this adventurous journey. Rather, he portrays the traveler en route, cramped and lacerated, bent in unbearable loneliness, falling, suffering the delusion of liberation. His expressive, rapid painting strokes allow nothing to be definite; the surface becomes a battlefield of colors, planes, squirts, traces of brushwork, slung pigment. Even when the colors glow they lack cheerfulness; figures may seem as solid as tree trunks, but they retain a feeling of lurking unrest; the paint itself seems raw, threatened by decay.

Annelie Pohlen

Translated from the German by Martha Humphreys.