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Hubert Schmalix - Bank Austria Kunstforum

Category: Exhibition, Portrait 20. May 2015

Curated by Florian Steininger, the Bank Austria Kunstforum exhibits a comprehensive overview on the work of Hubert Schmalix. About fifty of the paintings were especially created for this exhibition, partly in very large formats. Continuing with his research on the validity of painting as a medium, Schmalix shows his trademark topics like landscapes and nudes.


Nowadays there are huge expectations towards painting - to transcend the physicalistic space of representation and at the same time to delve into the physical and mental complexity of the image, requiring an identification between the dimension of erotic desire that is present in the picture on the one hand, and on the other hand the visual pleasure in the psychoanalytical sense. Schmalix manages to create continuity between seeing, desiring and painting.


As Freud stated about the unconscious, not the drive itself but only its representation can become an object of consciousness. Hubert Schmalix’ work is not a representation of the recognizable but rather the staging of an imagination, an intricate expansion of the drive in its most psychoanalytical variety. The fundamental concept in this world of images is the wish. The wish to paint is, in its deepest and darkest leaning, the wish to paint the wish, which is an impossible endeavour, due to its unattainability. Nevertheless, the unattainable wish leaves its mark in the painting. In this sense the painting of Schmalix is metamorphosis, the metamorphosis of desire. In the interaction and the contradiction between the principles image and reality, a third instance emerges between, under and above the two – imagination, constituting the medium of desire. Hubert Schmalix’ paintings are characterized by the staging of this desire, although he keeps a certain distance employing irony and elements of kitsch.

The metamorphic fabric of his paintings has to do with the representation of the mechanisms that Freud found in dreams: condensation and displacement. In the changeable realm of fantasies nothing is consistent and stable, but rather reduplicated and divided. The immediate, plain reproduction of this reality always has to get filtered in the mirror of imagination, in order get the deeper truth of desire to shine through this confrontation.

Redefining painting after its crises means to return to its essential dimension, to the universe where it originated, which is nothing else but the body. Likewise it means accepting the limitations of the human body and its differences to the mechanical and electronic means of representation that are overrepresented in our culture today. In this world of pluralities of representations, painting lost its former exclusivity - but not its expressive power and aesthetic radicalness. Due to its corporal origin, it remains valid as a laboratory for expressing visual forms, in their temporal dimension. In art, perpetuity is never attained by the impossible attempt to find a position beyond time, but on the contrary by intensifying the temporal dimension of the images, the task being the relocation of the temporal sequence – metamorphose.

The dimension of time is at the root of Schmalix’ painting. The pictures are constituted by accumulations and layers of several temporalities over the canvas. If painting is an eternal conflict and battle with time and duration, in the case of Schmalix it is developed in full awareness of inevitable defeat: there is no “final” state of the picture beyond time. (written by Cem Angeli)

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