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Gunter Damisch - Fields, Worlds (and Beyond)

Category: Portrait 25. November 2013

To be and to do are one and the same thing for Gunter Damisch – in every one of his works there is not only a formal, but also an inner imperative becoming manifest. ZEITKUNST Niederösterreich in the Lower Austria Contemporary Gallery St. Pölten is presenting the manifold oeuvre of Gunter Damisch in its new exhibition "Fields, Worlds (and Beyond)" opened till Februar 23, 2014. CastYourArt visited the artist at his ateliers and produced an artist-portrait.

As if we whistled the fragment of a song, and only vaguely remember the tune; by stubbornly repeating the tune, we unconsciously abandon any original idea in order to invent a new musical occurrence: it is still recognizable, but different in structure and full of aberrations. One of the most striking features in the visual language of Gunter Damisch is the constant transformation of its imagery.

The images refuse a central topic, and the gaze is forced to scan the picture in a kind of process, to soon find discontinuities and recurrences that indicate different itineraries, of which some turn out to be unfinished and interrupted by the frame of the canvas. It is an impression reinforced by the reiteration of shapes and the insistence on the vocabulary, a gestural stroke yielding a distinctive rhythm; the same irritation emerges, with cadences associating each picture with the next one and opposing every series to its counterpart. This is also the case in every picture in itself, by seemingly transcending its frame. The gaze does not rest on one or the other spot; it delves into a labyrinth in which the rhythm has priority over the single motive. In this expansive state of painting, diverse and conflicting motives are united in one and the same place.

The components are not organized hierarchically or concentrated in one or more centres of attention (like faces or objects) in order to condemn the rest of the picture to serve as a surrounding of the emphasized object. Instead, the observer is confronted with a chaos of perception that has to be perambulated, stopping in some places and finally returning to the totality of the picture again. We finally get to the origin of perception. It is where consciousness blends with the sensory stimulus, where it enjoys forms and colours without the preconditions of prior knowledge, searching for the joy of a primordial vision.

Damisch develops a compulsive, frenzied approach as an outcome of fracturing, transcending and expanding the image, nevertheless insisting on the motive in the end, displaying its possibilities based on the most curious variations. These are overflowing with nervous connections and strange extensions. The search for the lost subject conjures up a dream-like dimension, charged with ambiguity, like a past reality remembered only vaguely. The fact that there is a lot to see does by no means imply that the consciousness could not grasp it all and maintain attention. The slowly elaborated pictures by Damisch demonstrate that there is much more than a superficial layer of images, sweetening our daily lives – he always manages to maintain a playful spirit, however.

The pictures and sculptures have their own elementary language, structuring the pictorial and surrounding space by successive traces, outlines, forms and strokes, demanded by the creative act itself, and pointing towards a (stylistic or conceptual) horizon determined beforehand. It is a language without a dictionary, because it is newly written and constructed in every piece of work. In every single case, it is subject to new and different requirements that arise. These are spectacular games with a fractal visual imagery – ramified, dendritical, wiry, entangled, and granular: Blots, brushstrokes, fragments emanating an energy that can only be grasped when immersed into the structures. Damisch dissects the parts by a precise surgical act, similar to the autopsy of a corpse. This analytical procedure seems to help the painter to undo some of the most entangles knots of his psyche – and if not, then perhaps it helps the viewer at least.

Gunter Damisch was born in Steyr in1958. He lives in Vienna and Freydegg. (written by Cem Angeli)

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