October 27 - January 19, 2013

Maria Lassnig

Der Ort der Bilder

Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium

The exhibition “Der Ort der Bilder” is not retrospective but rather focuses on a number of important ensembles that shaped the career and the work of the artist. Most of the works in the exhibition have rarely been shown previously, as they were kept in the artist’s own col- lection. The oeuvre of Maria Lassnig, although seemingly quite heterogeneous, often centres on the recurring theme of the self-portrait and the exploration of the own body. She does not paint ‘external’ images; her images originate from the inner mind, the imagination, and the dream.This is why the works of Lassnig are often referred to as ‘Endogene Bilder’ (Endogenous Images): these are paintings that originate in the body without being a representation of it.
The earliest works in the exhibition date from the early 1960s.These are abstract paintings, instinctively painted in bright colours. On large canvases, she experiments with her own body: she paints while lying down, sitting or standing on the canvas.The lines in the composition are powerfully brushed, yet they also emit a certain fragility. In these paintings, she explores her own body: a central theme in her work she will later refer to as “body awareness”.These are, in a sense, self-portraits, even if it is difficult to discern any form of figuration in the composi- tions.The paintings are an expression of the body, rather than a representation of it. In order
to largely exclude visual reality in favour of a more introspective exploration of the body, she often paints with closed eyes. In the 1960s, Lassnig also paints her first (self)portraits as mutated figures, which she describes as monstrous and which will continue to appear in the work of the artist.

During the time Maria Lassnig lives in New York (from 1968 to 1980), she becomes interested in the medium of film and takes a course in animation at the School of Visual Arts. Between 1970 and 1976 she realizes eleven short films, two of which are presented in the exhibition. Iris is an exploration of the female body as a landscape, a play with camera angles and zoom effects. The play of visual deformations is reinforced by the dissonant sounds. Selfportrait is an animated film made with colour markers, with English commentary by Maria Lassnig. It is a film about her life, her dreams and her eternal quest for a male partner. Simultaneously tragic and humorous.
The exhibition brings Lassnig’s early works into dialogue with the works made in the last twenty years, the period in which she begins to enjoy worldwide recognition. Be- ziehungen is a series of group portraits from the early 1990s, in which the lines drawn between the figures represent mutual relationships. She herself, her parents and her former partners are depicted as main characters in these works. In the more recent works, the dream aspect becomes even more important. Her works are populated with grotesque characters and bizarre animals set in often bright-green natural landscapes.The male-female relationship remains an explicit theme in her work, as in the painting Mann, Frau und Hund. The subjective use of colour, the intuitive line drawing and introspective approach to the body, as in the works of the 1960s, are very important aspects in these often monumental paintings. It is precisely these qualities that make the work of Lassnig so unique and recognizable.

The exhibition “The Location of Pictures” was previously shown in Neue Galerie Graz (17.11.2012 - 28.04.2013) and Deichtorhallen Hamburg (21.06.2013 – 08.09.2013). Exhibition catalogue is available.
The Universalmuseum Joanneum is preparing a catalogue raisonné of Maria Lassnig. If you know of any of the artist’s works, please contact
Johanna Ortner, johanna.ortner@museum-joanneum.at,T +43 664 8017 9239

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