Schleifmühlgasse 18 - 1040 Vienna 
+43-699-19207778 -

17th May - 19th June 2013
Opening: 16. Mai 2013, 6 pm
WHERE: Galerie Michaela Stock, Schleifmühlgasse 18, 1040 Vienna


An infernal trip through life

No sleep til Ragnarok, which was the title of a prior exhibition in Vienna, promises a bareback infernal ride, an unresting sense of being at someone else's mercy, of being torn away into the infernal tides of doomsday, just as Ragnarok is described in the Edda. A massive fight between gods and gigantic primordial creatures, destined to entirely destroy planet earth, leaves, in the end, some hope that arises out of the chaos for a redistribution of forces. It is the idea of the end of overcoming all and starting afresh, of a change of meaning, liberating old contents and forms from their ties and uniting them as new creatures. In terms of sensual thinking, which is intrinsically inscribed into art, Nitsche changes the Nordic apocalypse into a point of origin for a new imaginative world, which is his own. One could, thus, say that Nitsche is the creator of his own private Ragnarok. What originates here is, therefore, not a representation of the end, but rather of a new start, a feeling of insecurity dominates this artistic experience at first.

The irritation eradiating from the figures results from the inorganic anatomy which Nitsche fabricates from torn apart soft toys and various materials he has found, they are homunculi of the consume and toy fauna which are served to our startled sense of perception by an artistic Doctor Frankenstein. This figurative world is, however, not only to be perceived as a puzzle consisting of fitting and non-fitting parts. Instead, it is backed by creative will, also in classical terms, modelled pieces made from clay or other materials seamlessly transcend into elements adopted from the daily world of things, one is attached to the other in a surprisingly harmonious way, just as if everything had to have that form. – And so it is, as these creatures are under direct supervision of their creator because they emerge from his mental images.

The sculptures and drawings present hybrid animals and mythical creatures, they are gnomes, seemingly having sprang from Icelandic fairy tales; they are exotic animals having lost their way and straying from the Old Norse myths into our times and our parts of the world. Such role models can already be found in the ancient history of art, for instance in the paintings of the Breughel family or in those of Hieronymus Bosch, in which the things and symbols of terror, lust, sacred doings and mortification are portrayed together, merging into one another. Affine and creative patters can also be found in Odilo Redon's symbolism from the late 19th century and in the early drawings of Alfred Kubin.
This position has not had any equivalent in the Austrian history of art since 1945, but has found resemblance in a series of like-minded approaches, ranging from Padhi Frieberger, the material sculptures created in the early days of Viennese Actionism, to the objects of Curt Stenverts and, of course, can also be found in the works of Gelatin, Günter Brus and Christian Eisenberger. Internationally, also Mike Kelly, Björk and Matthew Barney belong to this circle.

All this is justified, for there may be such a thing as spiritual kinship, and yet the illustrious examples mentioned above are only alike in terms of form, not in terms of the actual core. It is difficult to grasp this core, so to say the soul of the work of art, because it is exactly this thing, discarded from the primary cycle of utilisation, which is used as raw material. When Nitsche works with soft toys, this is not only meant in formal terms. Soft toys are part of the idea "intact world of the child, sense of security and being taken care of, unconditional love". Everything that disturbs this cosy atmosphere, just like these torn apart, reconstructed child-world organisms, transforms this illusion into the opposite, into the horrific idea that this precious human treasure is disgraced. It is this aboriginal level of perception that Nitsche primarily loves to play with, he knows that his materials will again tell a story, and using all his competence he accentuates them as a medium, as emotional messengers. But in this early stages, this work of art is still a thing, it is a conglomerate of things which are only to be "ex-sculptured" from real life in their final union when the paraffin is poured over them. It is only during this process, characteristic of the entire momentary work, that the element of daily life with all its banal meanings is elevated to the status of a work of art.

When I was a child, I once saw a terrific cloak-and-dagger movie at the cinema, the title of which has long since slipped my mind, in which the final battle took place in a lead casting house into which the hero had manoeuvred the villain and where he found death when he was entirely covered by the boiling lead. He was still the villain, albeit dead, but his transformation into a grotesque sculpture made from lead caused a profound and impressive change within me as the evil guy had been altered into a symbolic sculpture of his fatal being.

But Nitsche's figures are far from being evil; at least that is not their prior purpose. They often have connections to a magic world – also to that of a child, but their seemingly naïve childishness only slightly overlies hallucinogenic experience and dream worlds filled with eroticism. Transformation, mutation and metamorphosis of the construction elements cause their uncanny self-existence between sublime threat and innocent impression.
In the end, all that is left for us as observers is astonishment at the enigmatic effect of these creatures, all of which carry, without a doubt, a mystery inside. No clear results can be achieved if we only try to find a logical decipherment. It is the fruit of contemplation and of our plunging into worlds far from the rationally determined surface of daily life that we can rather enjoy through emotional intelligence than through our sparse and rational mind.
(Berthold Ecker)

Michael Nitsche
Michael Nitsche | Abracadamorbida

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