Martin C. Herbst & Sebastian Weissenbacher: On the Essence and Appearance of the World June 01, 2012 - June 30, 2012

The `series` of Várfok Gallery showing two artists and their works side by side at once arrives this time to its last, third phase. The next exhibition at Várfok Gallery will be the joint show of two Austrian artists, Martin C. Herbst and Sebastian Weissenbacher: they will exhibit together for the first time, in Budapest. The show titled On the Essence and Appearance of the World will present two absolutely different styles and creative attitudes which are however related by the will to overstep the appearance of reality and to search for a deeper coherence. 

Sebastian Weissenbacher’s (1959, Eggenburg | A) paintings might seem disorienting at first sight as what unfolds in front of the viewer is a sort of `kitsch-orgy` – a visually forceful divertissement of vulgar objects wrapped often in flashy colours and completed by tight, homogeneous surfaces.
Weissenbacher’s endeavour is to insecure and surprise the viewer who, if one is an experienced exhibition-goer, will surely try to convulsively legitimise the works by looking for hidden meanings, allegories, complex art historical references: but in vain, as there is no secure base to be found. What is univocal is the cynism and humor hidden inside the pictures, accompanied by the strong feeling that inspite of the comments here-above, Weissenbacher’s works are far from being trivial: when scratching the pink shiny glaze, deep Human problems, existential matters, references to current political and religious events are to be discovered. As Lóránd Hegyi writes in one of his essays, Weissenbacher is a quiet, sharp and clever observer who is hiding behind the clown’s make-up.
The content of the show to be next presented at Várfok Gallery will give a wider panorama of the artist’s work of the past six years. Unlike the meticulous over-nicety and plain, homogeneous surfaces of the earlier works, the latest paintings are characterized by a more schematic style and inscriptions gaining a more and more emphatic role.
Weissenbacher was invited several times as resident artist to different parts of the world (1994 - London, 1996 - Rome, 2009 – Chicago), and therefore could integrate the experiences emanating from these journeys into his works, as for the themes and as for the classical prefigurations.

The Hungarian public last saw Martin C. Herbst’s (1965, Salzburg | A) works in Budapest in 2009. Since then Herbst continued to accumulate international success, for example at the Istanbul art fair where all of his works were sold, but he was also represented at the Scope Basel, Art Miami or Scope Miami too. At the present moment, an important change is to be noticed in his work: the artist who paints since 25 years mainly on aluminium and metal surfaces got back to the use of canvas.
Human portrait is definitely the most characteristic genre within his œuvre. The painted faces are suggestive without exception, they capture the viewer with their enigmatic look: vainly would the spectator try to puzzle out their personality, one will never manage to see the deep bottom of their soul. Due to this mysterious aspect, Herbst’s art is often associated with the philosophy of Manierist portrait-painting of the 16th Century, as his art concentrates on the hidden aspect of Human psyche. The mysteriousness and cool distance of the faces are only reinforced by the cold metal aspect of the carrier surface. Yet the rigid, plane base suddenly stops to be motionless and reaches out in space assuming the form of spheres, waves and becoming a three dimensional object. This is the moment when Herbst starts to deform heads, sometimes pulling out some details, sometimes condensing these, generating this way dynamism and an exciting optical game, multiplying the numbers of different viewpoints. And the painter keeps using this method in an even more conscious way. Herbst likes to deform these faces, but the viewer won’t find them grotesque or abnormal. It is the same sensual, elusive beauty which emanates from these works than it did from the earlier ones. This method is not an arbitrary game the artist plays, but it is based on the observation of the selective and emotional quality of Human perception and memory. Besides the oil on canvas works, the exhibition will also present some works of the `Hidden Treasures` series, where from the creased metal surfaces unfold as small treasures the sometimes erotic sometimes distant portraits often invoking reminiscences of Baroque times.  

On the Essence and Appearance of the World

H-1012 Budapest, Várfok St. 11
Thursday May 31, 2012 |
between 7 and 9 p.m.

The exhibition will be introduced by Dr. Elisabeth Kornfeind,
Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Budapest.

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