Hermann Nitsch: Performance Paintings
Born in Vienna, Austria, 1938. Lives and works in Austria.
Hermann Nitsch is an iconic dissident figure in contemporary art, one of the co- founders of the avant-garde Viennese Actionism movement, and was central in the 1960s reforms of the canonical notions of art. He has always worked with radically experimental and multimedia methods and remains the only Viennese Actionist still active today.
Nitsch trained in painting at the Wiener Graphische Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt, during which he was drawn to religious art. From 1957 onwards, the depiction of Dionysian revelry and ceremonies began to feature heavily in his work. That same year, he conceived an idea for a radical theatre, which he called the “Orgien Mysterien Theater”. It was an attempt to create a Gesamtkunstwerk, a ‘total art’, a mystical, sensory experience; this intention has become intrinsic to his artistic practice and can be seen throughout his paintings.
His canvases capture the essence of his performative spirit and his undying fascination for the corporeal. As Nitsch has said: ‘Red is the colour that most intensively arouses attention because it is simultaneously the colour of both life and death.’ Nitsch’s expressive use of paint transforms a blank page into a performative action: each canvas captures and reveals an individual and spontaneous instance.
Hermann Nitsch, Galerie 422 Margund Lossl, Gmunden, Austria (2018); Ausstellung ‘Hermann Nitsch: Memorial Against the War’, Osthaus Museum, Hagen, Germany (2018); Hermann Nitsch, Galerie RX, Paris, France (2018); Hermann Nitsch,
Massimo De Carlo Gallery, London, UK (2018); Hermann Nitsch – solo presentation, MARC STRAUS, The Armory Show, New York (2018); ‘Hermann Nitsch and His Artistic Pilgrimage’, UM MUSEUM, Bongdam Hwaseong, Korea (2017); Utopie Gesamtkunstwerk, 21er La perversion de lo clasico: anarquia de los relatos, museo archeologico, Cuban Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Flesh and blood, Museum on the Seam, Israel Personal structures, 55th Venice Biennale (2013); Eroi, Galleria d`Arte Moderna, Turin Personal structures, 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Triennale, Yokohama, Parma, Kunstlerhaus, Vienna (2008); Out of actions, MOCA, Los Angeles (1998).