Martin Eiter

Galerie Karin Schorm

The starting point of Martin Eiter’s paintings is the revolutionary spirit of the ’80s during which “wild painting” also celebrated its triumphs in Austria. Eiter even shared the studio of two of the most celebrated exponents of this artistic direction, Herbert Brandl and Gunter Damisch. But Eiter chose another direction—away from the expressive palette and materiality of his colleagues. He limits his palette to black and white, to “noncolor,” and only seldom does a slight tone of color shine through the glaze. His renunciation of the emotional qualities of color gives his works a cool distance and does not allow the viewer to be seduced by decorative effects. Rather the viewer is required to contemplate these pictures, and only then do the fine nuances of the grays appear, opening their pulsating spaces of color. Slowly, layer by layer, a complete image develops in the viewer’s mind.

Eiter came to painting from photography, translating the frozen photographic moment into the painting process. Unlike Francis Bacon, Sigmar Polke, or David Salle who incorporate the film technique of fading in and out, Eiter’s forms are abstract. But if one wishes to place him in the tradition of Austrian art informel, one must recognize that his work differs in very specific ways from that of the older generation: Eiter allows his color to run, painting and blotting it spontaneously. Still it is not painting as a cathartic act that he documents in his works, but momentary snapshots of a layered stream of consciousness.

In the ’80s Austrian painting developed in the space between Modernism and post-Modernism. Peter Weibel has characterized this as a self-reflexive discourse between “archive” and “innovation.” If one considers Eiter’s works with Weibel’s premises, one can see both reductionist and analytical tendencies as well as the great “archive” which he constantly reinterprets. Weibel writes, “Time as a conveyor belt dictates a new synchronicity and simultaneity.”

Peter Nesweda

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.