Variations on Classic
December 12, 2000 — February 4, 2001
With Gerwald Rockenschaub’s show, a clear-cut here and now occupied the BAWAG FOUNDATION in December 2000. The internationally acclaimed artist is regarded as an intellectual, skeptic, and pragmatist who has made a central contribution to revolutionizing the conventional understanding of what an artist is and does. His aesthetic practice is based on that deal between Club Culture, pop, and the contemporary art scene and market that charged the batteries in recent years. Long before crossover projects deteriorated into an inflationary "anything goes", Rockenschaub, with the precision peculiar to him, has made these methods his working principle.
Since 1988, he has been following a twofold strategy: while the DJ and techno musician impresses his public in the Vienna "Audioroom" or the Berlin "Bunker", the artist speeds things up with his presentations at the Venice Biennial and in international exhibition spaces from the Hamburg Kunstverein to the Vienna Secession. Rockenschaub’s varied work is anything but easy to forget – this holds true for both his early, almost logo-like oil paintings and their concise language of signs that mark the break with the value systems of painting and his techno-triggered radical turn to modes of production relying on machines and industrial materials: transparent acrylic glass screwed directly into the wall, silk-screen prints, pieces of carpeting – frameworks guiding the spectator’s looks and interpreting the space as an aesthetic act. Inflatable PVC objects, walls and cushions, objects relating to the world of minimal art at an interface between rigid presence and immateriality. A series of computer-generated wall objects – signs from the laptop that are glued to alucore with colored foils – emphasizes the artist’s renewed interest in pictures.
In his BAWAG FOUNDATION exhibition, Rockenschaub showed recent works from this series in the basement. In the main exhibition space, he related to the specific place and time and presented one of these space studies centering on the question of how fields of tension can be generated with a minimum of means and how aesthetic potential may be activated by site-specific interventions. This work had been developed especially for the situation in the BAWAG FOUNDATION, which thus faced up to a new conceptual and technical challenge.
(Text: Brigitte Huck, exhibition curator)