Vienna Contemporary: Artists to watch at the fair and in the future

Vienna Contemporary is back with loads of great art and even more young galleries and artists that you should keep an eye on in the near future. For general information about VC please head over to my fair report from 2016. This year Vienna Contemporary, located at Marx Halle, opened with 118 galleries and institutions from 27 different countries, presenting works by more than 400 artists. Because of this density it’s rather challenging to choose artists. 

Nevertheless, I have decided to select a few artists who seemed to represent interesting ideas not only at the fair but also regarding their whole oeuvre. 

Jakob Kirchmayr – Bildrecht Artist Statement at Viennacontemporary: This year the “Bildrecht” booth at Vienna Contemporary is featuring an installation by Austrian artist Jakob Kirchmayr who has been working in the Bildraum studio in Vienna’s creative space “Brotfabrik” since June 2018. Kirchmayrs work keeps engaging with political and social issues such as water scarcity in the area of Vulkan Iztaccíhuatl. He also refers to a local metaphor of the “sleeping woman” which is another term for the water source. Since 2008 Nestlé carries away more than one million liters of water on a daily basis, while detaining local citizens from the usage of potable water. Kirchmayr combines varnished paint with an expressive imprint of a female body, which may remind you of Yves Klein’s monochrome body paintings. The installation aims to rethink human vulnerability. 

Find out more about the artist here


Jakob Kirchmayr in front of his work for Vienna Contemporary. 

Arnold Holzknecht and Aaron Demetz at Galerie Doris Ghetta: Two Italian artists are being presented in the context of traditional materials, reworked in a contemporary visual language. Holzknecht builds his poetic magnets through small but sophisticated variations. His expressive power is the result of a stylistic originality that makes him unique in the international art scene. This uniqueness is evoked by the union of at least three great traditions: the poetic pictorial tradition (Licini, Klee, De Maria, Penone), the American minimalist tradition (Judd, Lewit, Newman) and the local sculptural tradition.

Aaron Demetz uses traditional woodcarving techniques to convey his preoccupation with humanity’s relationship to nature. In his work he eschews the classical opposition of human and nature, and allows the two to become an inseparable whole, evoking the primordial experience. Born in Val Gardena, in Northern Italy, Demetz adopted a traditional South Tyrolean technique of woodcarving that dates back to the 17th century. His sculptures – depicting the human figure in classical postures or unusual awkward positions – explore the possibilities and limitations of wood as a material. The resulting works have a strong physical presence, which deeply engage the viewer on a psychological level. After the figure has been carved out of the block of wood the material is submitted to three different ‘injuries’ or ‘lacerations”. Its surface gets roughened, burned or covered with drops of resin. All those processes are linked to Demetz’ concern for the human soul that he brings to the surface of his material.

Find out more about the artists here


Edgars Gluhovs at Careva Contemporary: A stamp is a means to reproduce something almost indefinitely through repetition. The medium of the stamp tends to symbolize approval, green-lighting, verification, leaving of a definitive mark. The stamp-marks on otherwise empty sheets of white paper in the pieces shown here do not work that way.

The works in this presentation consist of an ink-stamp reproduction of a marble ouroboros motif – a snake eating its own tail – to be found in the Santa Maria del Popolo church in Rome, the “eternal city”.

Gluhovs is referring to initially Ancient Egyptian iconography that entered the Western tradition via Greek magical tradition and was adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism and Hermeticism, and most notably in alchemy. Via medieval alchemical tradition, the symbol entered Renaissance magic and modern symbolism, often taken to symbolize introspection, the eternal return or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself. It also represents the infinite cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction, life and death.

Find out more about the artist here


Photo credits:

James Lewis at Galerie Hubert Winter: Lewis’ first solo exhibition at Galerie Hubert Winter back in 2016 established a dialogue with the suppressed and obscure twin of subjectivity; it addresses a state before logos, before the naming of things, a state of chaos, of disintegration. Lewis’ artworks speak of a primary language, a language that is aware of its own indetermination. This volatile semiosis is mirrored in the material Lewis uses. The unfired clay, formed into a table and littered with earthen coffee cups, periscopes and other objects that are somehow associated to the mystic gift of clairvoyance, used in its unrefined materiality is exposed to its own corrosion, to its eventual return to dust. These psychic objects James Lewis forms from memory are reminiscent of a Golem invocation, retracing the word to its original meaning: an amorphous, unformed raw material, usually out of stone and clay, before it has been given a name, when all spirit is just matter.

Find out more about the artist here


More impressions from Vienna Contemporary:


Opening hours: 27 - 30 September, 12am until 7pm
Address: Marx Halle, Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030 Vienna

Many thanks to Careva Contemporary for inviting me to the exclusive Vienna Contemporary preview!

Photo credits: Judith Bradlwarter. ©

Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030 Wien, Austria

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