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MARTHA JUNGWIRTH. A retrospective at Albertina Museum

Category: Exhibition 23. April 2018

For the first time, the Albertina dedicates a solo retrospective to the Viennese painter Martha Jungwirth (born 1940), with key works and series arranged according to themes, from the early paintings of the 1960ies up to very recent works that have never been shown before.
In 1968, Jungwirth participated in the exhibition „Wirklichkeiten“ (Realities) in the Secession in Vienna, in 1977 she was in the documenta Kassel, in 2010 a seprate hall was dedicated to her in an exhibition curated by Albert Oehlen in the Essl foundation. In 2014 she had a retrospective in the Kunsthalle Krems. This year she was awarded the Oskar-Kokoschka prize, endowed with 20.000 €.
The exhibition was curated by Antonia Hoerschelmann in collaboration with the artist herself. Jungwirth shows „seismograms of inner states“, translations of emotions, „where the consciousness and the feelings I have during working become visible“, says the artist.
The exhibition takes the visitor through Jungwirth‘s oeuvre with about 50 pictures, starting with abstract landscape watercolours of the 1960ies, followed by her famous drawings inspired by a dishwasher („Indesit“, 1975), bought by the Albertina after her exhibition at the documenta, up to her most recent work. Early watercolours from the Albertina’s collection are also on display, like the views of a harbour by the river Danube.
The pictures are mostly made on paper and then laminated on canvas, here they are arranged chronologically along thematic groups. Jungwirth prefers to work with paper, pencil, oil paint and watercolour. One series that has never been shown are large formats of the early 1980ies, they had been stored in the artist’s studio until today.
The cycle of works "Spittelauer Lände" of 1993 belongs to the Essl collection, they are images where figuration is still visible at times and where emptiness has a special signiificance.
Feelings evoked by persons, landscapes or objects are reflected in her work as evident in her series of pictures inspired by travels, like the ones from Istria, Cambodia, Greece or Mexico.
There are very recent works on diplay in the exhibition as well, like the series Istanbul of 2017, large oil paintings in red, pink and purple, inspired by photographs of the conflicts in Turkey in 2016. In these and other very new pictures, among them some with Vladimir Nabokov as a subject, Jungwirth changes the material from paper to Cardboard, as well as the colours.
In this glimpse into the wide range of her oeuvre stretching over six decades, Jungwirth’s sensitivity of perception and her special relationship between figure and abstraction becomes evident.
Figurative shapes like heads, feet or buildings become recognisable at times, she combines abstraction and figuration, at the same time she manages to reconcile strong colours like bright pink, purple, orange or red in her own very original way in her colour compositions. Her perceptions are brought to the paper spontaneously.
The gestual energy is palpable everywhere in her paintings, the dynamic and quick colouring makes space for chance, leaving traces as drips, blots, splashes and trickles of paint.
The exhibition is an indulgence for art lovers and a school of seeing for artists. Jungwirth uses her mastery of academic painting to create her very particular imagery according to her own rules.
Her ability to combine artistic emotion with intellectual ceherence allows for fluent reading of these chromatic texts. They invite the reader-viewer to immerge into this very individual spectrum of different states of perceptions and emotions. (written by Cem Angeli)
In the Albertina until June 3rd, catalogue (hardcover, 160 p.) for 24,90 €

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