Excerpt from the speech manuscript for Kristian Fenzl's vernissage (art opening) in the gal/ery of Castle Lamberg in Steyr on 07 June
Good evening dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am standing here in Steyr or in the Lentos Art museum in Linz and I am trying to explain the seemingly incomprehensible, i.e. the paintings of artists.
Paintings with objects, as in the case of Helnwein, or today nonobjective or better: abstract paintings.
As Kandinsky teaches us, the abstract is a simplifying picture language derived from an object, whereas non-objective art cannot be directly connected with our real environment.
Fenzl's paintings, therefore, are not without an object, but they are abstract in nature. What came first? The object, in Fenzl's case, nature that was abstracted? Or the non-objective painting that projects images/fantasies into the observer's mind? Matisse, the big master of colour, comments that "when observing a painting one has to completely forget what it represents." (Koch-Hillebrecht, page 71). Abstract art challenges the observer. It causes to introduce perceptions, emotions, memories, and to get involved in the play of colour and form.
In Kristian Fenzl's works we find his paintings as a plot fleeing the object but not excluding it. The object Fenzl's paintings are concentrating on is nature. Landscapes of ice and snow, deserts, the wide ocean, the horizon, sunsets, gleaming streams of lava, green meadows.
The 4 elements, the order principles of the traditional world view: earth-water-fire-air are the basic topics of Fenzl's unspoiled landscapes. It is known that according to the ancient and medieval world view elements have their counterpart in colours, as well as in temperaments, seasons, yes, even in organs and bodily fluids.
My first encounter with Fenzl's paintings only goes back a short time which wasn't even a year, but I have known the artist already since 1986.
I step into Fenzl's domicile where his studio is located , into Fenzl's self-designed house. I am greeted by a stuffed lion whose mouth is wide open. A gloomy African nail fetish stares at me skeptically. Makonde-heads stare at me or do they laugh at me? Have I intruded the realm of a designer who is internationally successful and has piles of prizes and tributes? Mister "Panther" himself (the designer of the sharp futuristic red Rosenbauer - airport fire truck, worldwide in service) greets me.
I also know Fenzl as a versatile exhibition designer who besides other things has organized the Upper Austrian National Exhibition "Genesis and the modern" in the New Gallery of Linz or the successful show "Gold from Africa". Fenzl is designer, interior decorator, art professor at the university, responsible for "art in the building industry" -projects, book editor and passionate collector of African art.
Whoever steps into his realm submerges himself into an exotic and glorious and colorful world , into an art museum of ethnology: Nitsch, Sengi and Rainer, heavy Attersee art, Damisch und again and again the magic of Africa . And way in the back, in the studio, or better in the remodeled garage, what a surprise, rows of self-painted pictures are hiding, all stapled according to size and colours and series.
A new discovery: Fenzl is now predominantly a painter. Kristian Fenzl is the classical universal designer in the sense of the Bauhaus tradition , a man with a passion for the entire artwork, the "baroque" Austrian version of an artist. What does he need for his work? "Nature and Repeatedly the diversity of nature ". (Quote K.F.)
Vice-director of the Lentos Museum of Art in Linz