GERWALD ROCKENSCHAUBsentimental braindance / allure selec +April 28 to June 05, 2021
sentimental braindance / allure selec +
Expanding from a seemingly restrictive abstract-minimalist framework, the Austrian artist Gerwald Rockenschaub has been developing an utterly innovative and diverse range of works since the early 1980s. Their production method and degree of perfection have continuously mirrored the technical and artistic possibilities of the present day. Never allowing the rigid rules of classic Minimal Art to constrain his work, he sought a crossover of art, design, media, and everyday life from the very beginning. Before attending Herbert Tasquil's class at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna from 1978 to 1982, Rockenschaub studied history, philosophy, and psychology. During this period, he extensively explored perceptual psychology. The insights and conceptual approaches gained then have continued to define him as a person and his understanding of art until today.
Rockenschaub's mastery is most evident in his vast scope of artistic expression, his engagement with spatial circumstances, and his dramaturgically pointed use of colour. In his oeuvre, luminous colours regularly coincide with minimalist-geometric forms, occasionally bringing to mind pictograms. His art ranges from painting to wall objects, sculptures, site-specific installations, and filmic animations that playfully draw on his formal repertoire and set it in motion. His sources of inspiration include positions of modern art, abstract concepts, Pop Art, Minimal Art, popular culture, and notably the techno and electro scene—he repeatedly samples all these influences to form a new whole. In doing so, he soon discovered the virtually unlimited possibilities of computer-assisted composition. In his own words: "When my finances made it possible for me to buy a computer, I relocated my studio into a laptop. It was a terrific and efficient way to expand my artistic production."
At Galerie Mehdi Chouakri, visitors now have the rare opportunity to view works from Rockenschaub's early practice, presented alongside his current works. Their materiality and execution are particularly compelling and shed light on the progression of technical possibilities in the artist's oeuvre. Canvases and wooden objects that look charmingly handcrafted are shown alongside machine-produced synthetic elements with a high gloss aesthetic. The contrast could not be starker. And yet, these early works already indicate the direction of subsequent artistic developments. Music, among other things, was a characteristic element of Rockenschaub's style from an early stage. His square paintings and objects frequently call to mind the format and design of records and record covers. The titles of his monographic exhibitions tend to sound like song titles—hence the current exhibition title "sentimental braindance / allure selec +" fits this pattern.
Formally, his early painting in the 1980s associated him with the Neo-Geo movement. The artist was, however, never concerned with classical painting as such. He regards his painterly work as a reflection of the medium and considers the paintings primarily as objects for an installation or a stage production.
The range of materials Rockenschaub uses further demonstrates that he never distanced himself from popular culture. For quite some time, he has been working with acrylic glass, plastic film, and MDF boards that replace the canvas and allow his works to be produced by machine.
His extraordinarily wide-ranging oeuvre reveals a great deal about his understanding of art and his role as an artist. He maintains a pragmatic, invariably solution-oriented approach that allows him to expand and adapt the framework of his artistic practice to suit any given situation. When it comes to Rockenschaub, there is no clear distinction between creation and service. His installations and room designs at various international galleries and museums have impressively confirmed the fruitful symbiosis between these two spheres.
Rockenschaub considers his art to be a visual game, and he continues to astonish the viewer with new game variations to this day.
— Karsten Löckemann
Translation Katerine Niedinger
Oil on canvas, 198512 x 12,5 cm4.7 x 4.9 in
Oil on canvas, 198650 x 50 cm19.7 x 19.7 in
Red acrylic glass, metal screws, washers, 201666 x 80 cm26 x 31.5 in
Dispersion paint on wood, 1981/8226 x 26,5 x 3 cm10.2 x 10.4 x 1.2 in
Grey acrylic glass, metal screws, washers, 201690 x 90 cm35.4 x 35.4 in
MDF board, cut and lacquered, 2011100 x 115 x 4 cm39.4 x 45.3 x 1.6 in