Klosterneuburg, Austria

Hubert Scheibl

Sammlung Essl

Hubert Scheibl is exhibiting nice fat ducks and a crocodile just outside Vienna. It’s a bit of a surprise to see such a menagerie being put on display by a long-standing practitioner of the gradually eroding artistic discipline known as abstract painting, but in his quest to surreptitiously absent himself from the realm of the oil-on-canvas—his activity in this field currently being shown at the Essl, Austria’s largest private museum, under the telling title “Fat Ducks”—Scheibl is resisting the sorts of surefire methods made popular by Gerhard Richter. Instead, he is working to expand his turf not only within the medium but as a commentator and author of occasional marginalia.

With ten impressive large-format works (some up to nearly twelve by seventeen feet) of varied palettes, Scheibl starts out on familiar territory. But his titles coax the viewer to see his programmatically nonfigurative,

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