Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst und Medien (KM-Graz) press release

Christian Egger

The artistic practice of Doris Piwonka (born 1968, Judenburg) is a prime example of painting that is aware of one’s own historical conditions, but also of the present-day situation. Moreover, it stands for the pursuit of a discourse on contemporary painting, which is asserted with faith in the renewable, aesthetic, and visual energies inherent to the medium. In Piwonka’s first institutional solo exhibition, held at the KM–, Künstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz, an exemplary selection of paintings from several work complexes and creative periods will be on show, extending beyond a purely formal interest in painterly matters. The artist presents painting not in the sense of discerning withdrawal but, on the one hand, by stepping out of her canonical discourse of crisis while subtly integrating its boundaries and realities and, on the other, by demonstrating awareness of a media-reflexive perspective.

“Over the years, this strategy increasingly gains in complexity. Like set pieces, more and more painterly means are integrated into the pictures, which, taken in isolation, do not want to be something new; yet through a steady arrangement and rearrangement, they overwrite the impression left by what has already transpired and so begin to radiate renewed strength and independence” (Martin Prinzhorn).

Continual developments and refinements of Piwonka’s pictorial language are perceptible thanks to their coherence. In her paintings, picture surfaces separate the space of contemplative, planar spaces of color from the realm of pragmatic reflection on the place where the image exists and on the conditions and implications of this existence. A kind of dual-sided topography informs these paintings. The relation between foreground and background coloring is likewise highly involved, with the image sections divided as if into two pictorial spheres, suggesting an affective point of access to the picture. Despite irritations regarding the placing of paint layers, her painting demonstrates the illusory character of that first demarcation with which the image sections off its own space as image: rectangular forms contrast with the color fields on which they are placed, delineating the only clear lines in the picture and opening potentialities of differentiation, especially through their distance to the frame.
The extent to which referential remnants of a material reality may still play a role here likewise it´s all up in the air, solely borne by the employment of painterly means. Unfolding along these painstaking sequences of undecidability are ambivalent contexts posited between the resoluteness of form and the indeterminableness of its borders. Piwonka succeeds in garnering from painting, from the organisations of colored surfaces, from its materiality and historical overload those possibilities, means, and painting styles that are not confirmed by self-referential legitimation discourse, nor primarily geared to academically codified methods—but rather those that streamline the meaning-charged question as to how a painting is made and what it represents along the idiom of abstraction.