PAINTINGS, ACTIONS, RELICS AND MUSICAL SCORES 1962 – 2020
curated by Flaminio Gualdoni
Hermann Nitsch, 77.malaktion, 2017, 200 x 300 cm, mixed media on canvas.
ABC-ARTE pays tribute to a major protagonist of the contemporary scene with an in-depth and comprehensive documentary exhibition.
This exhibition of Hermann Nitsch is not a simple presentation of the inanimate remains of the actions that he triggered or accompanied, but takes on a further vitality of its own with a strong and specific degree of communicative autonomy.
Hermann Nitsch, 158.aktion, 2020, Museo Hermann Nitsch Napoli.
The artist, performer, dramatist, musician and philosopher Hermann Nitsch, who was the main protagonist of Viennese Action Painting, is regarded by many as one of the most important Austrian artists of all time. As a particularly controversial and experimental figure at the centre of polemics and boycotts, the ‘blood artist’ experienced peaks of fame, court trials and prison sentences before confirming his role as a permanent fixture of the contemporary art panorama.
The exhibition organised by ABC-ARTE in its historic gallery in Genoa, with a related but autonomous appendix opening shortly afterwards in the gallery in Milan, ABC-ARTE ONE OF, is an attempt to convey by means of dense painterly materials and spontaneous gestures the total world of experience practised by Nitsch. In 1975 he founded Das Orgien Mysterien Theater, which pervaded his entire oeuvre.
From the early eminently painterly works of the 1960s and 1970s to the large canvases with relics of 77.malaktion, 2017, the extraordinary unicum of Omaggio ad Alberto Burri [Homage to Alberto Burri], 2015, and 158.aktion, 2020, the technical aspect of the work is always ostentatiously contaminated with objects and devices, from which the ritual and liturgical aspect of the operations emerges clearly. For the gallery in Milan we have chosen to document 29.malaktion, 2018, in which the dominant yellow and the painterly component are the prevailing elements.
The experience that the artist creates, and in which he calls into question both the figures involved in the drama and the spectators, is always a process of definition of the wiseacres and a profound synaesthesia (the relation between sound and colour, material perception and vision, scents) physically experienced and savoured, capable of reactivating a level of awareness and a sensual condition that is renewed time and again. The visual documentations of the actions are themselves an essential part of the shared experience too.
Hermann Nitsch, Untitled, 1962, 130x100cm, mixed media on canvas.
The aim of the exhibition is to follow the philosophical references and intentions of this famous artist, who always emphasised how his actions, no matter how repulsive or revolting, were supposed to have a cathartic effect. The participants were drawn closer to the mysteries of life and death, often involved in crude and visceral performances, as they experienced new sensations and grew aware of the taboos imposed by social conventions.
The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the valuable collaboration of the Museo Hermann Nitsch. Archivio Laboratorio per le Arti Contemporanee [Hermann Nitsch Museum. Archive Laboratory for Contemporary Arts], founded and directed in Naples by Peppe Morra. From 1974 it has followed the work of Nitsch from all points of view and conserves materials of primary importance.
A new bilingual monograph will be published by ABC-ARTE edizioni, with texts by the curator Flaminio Gualdoni and other critics and a rich documentary apparatus, to accompany the exhibition.
Hermann Nitsch, Edipo Re, 2 di 30, 2017, 118,5 x 103 cm, mixed media.