Two weeks ago the Essl Museum announced a call for applications for the group exhibition of emerging artists “die zukunft der malerei”. I met curator Günther Oberhollenzer to find out about the selection procedure, the focus on painting, and the prospects for the artists after the exhibition.
Kristina Kulakova: Who can apply?
Günther Oberhollenzer: This group exhibition is very special because there is no age limit for the applicants. Every emerging artist who lives and works in Austria (also in the residency program) can apply. In fact the oldest participant in our emerging artists exhibition >Austria Contemporary< in 2008 was 53.
KK: How many applications did you have in previous years?
GO: For the 2008 emerging artists exhibition we had more than 1000 applications. But it was a little bit different because it was open to all media, not only painting and drawing.
KK: Why you decided to focus on painting this year?
GO: We had a lot of discussions about this. For us it was more interesting to focus on one or two media in order to be able to go deeper. Furthermore, painting is the main focus of the museum collection. If you go through the current exhibitions >made in austria< and >die andere sicht< curated by our collectors Agnes and Karlheinz Essl, you will see mainly paintings. We also talked a lot about “curated by” last year, which asked: “Why painting now?”. The discussion is going on in Germany and also in the UK (for example, recently at TATE): Is it contemporary to paint today? And we say: Yes, it is contemporary. And we would like to see what the scene of young artists has to offer.
KK: Can you name any trends in this young scene?
GO: It is really difficult to say. A few weeks ago ,for example, I was at the Academy during the Rundgang tour, and I was surprised by how many paintings there were – a lot of abstract painters, which was a surprise for me. I cannot say if there is a tendency in abstract or figurative painting, but I was really happy to see that there are a lot of painters. I think it would be interesting to have young artists apply for our exhibition who try to cross the borders of painting and in this way pose questions about the media itself.
From the very beginning (2000) it was very important for the museum to not only focus on established names like Anselm Kiefer and Maria Lassnig but also to show emerging artists. For us as a museum, and for me as a curator, it is so exciting to see what is coming next.
KK: What does the selection procedure look like?
GO: It is always fascinating to watch the selection of the jury, but in this case for me a jury is not the ideal solution. Sometimes I have the problem with the jury system that it seems as if the selection is objective. But in fact, when we look at the artworks, it’s a very emotional and subjective choice. We have no jury for this exhibition. I will ask my colleagues Andreas Hoffer and Johanna Langfelder-Hain to look at the applications with me, and then we will make the selection. We’re going to visit about 40 to 50 artists’ studios, and about 20 of them will be shown in the exhibition. So this exhibition is a very subjective look at the art scene.
KK: Does the museum buy the artworks that are exhibited?
GO: The works in this exhibition are loans from the artists. The main goal is to make a good exhibition, a great catalog, and have collectors, gallery owners, and artists see the show.
KK: What are the prospects for the artists after the exhibition?
GO: When I look at the artists, who we have shown in 2008 – for example, Clemens Wolf or Markus Bacher – they are now quite known. The gallery owner Steinek came to me and said: We were at the show >Austria Contemporary<, we saw the works of Clemens Wolf, and we would like to ask him to work with our gallery. Markus Bacher is now at CFA. There are a couple more stories like this.
You can apply with paintings and graphics.
The application period: from 15 February to 15 April 2014.
Only online applications will be accepted!
The detailed guide explaining the conditions for the application can be found here.
Online application: www.diezukunftdermalerei.org