Printed Matter

Current Positions in Austrian Printmaking

Printmaking is a powerful medium as it holds the potential to both inform and arouse emotions. A walk through the international exhibit, Printed Matter: Current Positions in Austrian Printmaking, on now until March 22 at the University of Alberta’s FAB Gallery in collaboration with the Künstlerhaus in Vienna and Calgary’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and you’ll witness first-hand a stunning snapshot of some of the contemporary issues weighing on the minds and hearts of printmakers in Austria.

The media, technique, theme and inspiration of the art works vary considerably in Printed Matter. From Wojciech Krzywoblocki’s silkscreen Protection Layers (2001), inspired by the devastation of the Fukushima nuclear disaster from three years ago to Margret Kohler-Heilingsetzer’s Holidreams series (2012/13), preoccupied with the vessel as a metaphor for escape by juxtaposing images of ‘boat people’ with that of luxury vacationers on ‘entertainment temples’ – the pieces stir up severe social and political issues and at the same time they are strikingly beautiful.

artist Henriette Leinfellner’s work

Terah and I had the pleasure of chatting with Georg Lebzelter, Wojciech Krzywoblocki and Margret Kohler-Heilingsetzer, three of the Austrian artists that made the trek to Edmonton for the exhibition’s opening on February 27th. Here is what they had to say about their influences and processes.

artist Josef Danner’s work

Künstlerhaus: not your run of the mill museum

Georg Lebzelter explained how the Künstlerhaus, with its location in the centre of Vienna, in the middle of Europe and at the interface of East and West, views itself as a platform for national and international cooperation in all areas of the contemporary fine arts.

The Künstlerhaus is fundamentally different than a conventional museum or commercial gallery. It is an interdisciplinary association of independent artists, a structure that Lebzelter says provides the ideal conditions of freedom to address controversial artistic issues and interactive dialogue among individual working artists to spark new modes of creation.

Printmakers of the world: Unite!

Lebzelter also shared some background information about the project International Print Network (IPNet) – a cooperative programme since 2006 between the International Print Triennial Kraków (Poland), the Wiener Künstlerhaus (Austria) and the Horst Janssen Museum Oldenburg (Germany). Together, these institutions organize and hold exhibitions of contemporary, international graphic arts. The IPNet is extending with partners in Sweden, Turkey, Spain, the UK, the Czech Republic and right here, in Canada at the University of Alberta.

Printed Matter: Current Positions in Austrian Printmaking runs in the FAB Gallery until March 22, 2014. Admission to the show is free. For FAB Gallery location and hours operation, see the UAlberta Department of Art & Design website. Financial support for Printed Matter: Current Positions in Austrian Printmaking was provided by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, University of Alberta International, the University of Alberta’s Wirth institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, the Künstlerhaus, Vienna and the Ministry of Cultural Foreign Affairs in Austria.