Jürgen TaborVienna Downbeat – On the concepts and contexts of the exhibition Untitled (Flow)
Sabine SchaschlPartially Gone with the Wind
Fiona LiewehrTransitive Network Spaces
Cliff LausonSlow Flow
Matthia LöbkeWith a Black Ink – In the Studio of Herbert Hinteregger
Walter SeidlAesthetics of Reduction
Martin PrinzhornAdditive Abstraction
Fiona LiewehrHerbert Hinteregger & Michael Sailstorfer
at Georg Kargl BOX, Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna
Jürgen Tabor“To destroy an object to create a painting”
Günther MoschigHerbert Hinteregger – Color as Presence in Space
Fiona LiewehrKoenraad Dedobbeleer/Herbert Hinteregger
A sense of disquietude concerning the existing order of things
Elisabeth FiedlerA Transmedia Reduction of Means
Works by Herbert Hinteregger
Axel Jablonski(in the world of things)
Moritz Küng“It was through a documentation which Herbert Hinteregger sent me…”
“To destroy an object to create a painting”
Since the mid 1990s, Herbert Hinteregger has concerned himself with developing a specific vocabulary of geometrical abstraction that he enriches with narrative and romantic elements. In earlier paintings and installations he often used grid and net structures and worked with breaks, shifts and superimpositions in order to capture the perception of social conditions in a visual language, but for two years he has devoted himself to conceiving strictly vertical strip pictures. Hinteregger uses these subtly varied, minimalistic paintings to formulate a counterweight to the hectic zeitgeist and the flood of images. Rather than visual overstimulation, he commits to slowness, contemplation and to composing the pictorial elements in a way that seems musical.
The ensemble conceived for the exhibition includes five strip images, one ready-made – a glass window framed in copper strips from a house built by Ernst Epstein in Vienna in 1910 that reflects the spirit of the Wiener Werkstätte – and a wall plinth, an architectural element indicating the interplay between the individual parts.
As in earlier works, Hinteregger has built up the multi-coloured strip pictures from several layers of ball pen ink. He obtains the ball pen ink by opening up thousands of individual pens and letting the ink drip out in a leisurely process. He uses the process to produce the quantity of ink he needs for a particular painting, and no more. Hinteregger presents this self-chosen form of reduction and slowness as a statement against the mass-production of pictures. The contemplative picture-making process is reflected when looking at the paintings. The ball pen ink, applied in multiple layers, has characteristics that develop particularly if it is looked at for a long time: the surfaces shimmer in the light, and seem like closed planes at first, but on closer consideration they appear permeable and transparent. Hinteregger relates this impression to his perception of the reflecting surface of a black moorland lake near to which he grew up.
Hinteregger’s careful use of ball pen ink reinterprets something that is expressly an industrial product. This also chimes with the way he applies the ink and the strip-form of the pictures. He practises sharp-edged abstraction, and yet the hand-made quality always remains visible. Here Hinteregger cites the Wiener Werkstätte by referring to a “craft-related lack of focus”, which emphasizes the disassociation from industrial manufacture. In another strip picture he continued methods of reduction and precise looking on a monochromatic plane. The picture called Untitled (Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea)
(2012) consists solely of white primer. It is only the play of light and shade that reveals a relief built up of over ten layers.
Even though the strip pictures differ in colour, internal structure and format, they are all based on the principle of repetition. Colour variations within the repeating structure bring a rhythmic movement into the pictures reminiscent of the Minimal Music composition principles used by composers such as Steve Reich or Philip Glass. Hinteregger establishes the width of the strips by segmenting the picture surface into strips of equal size, or by defining an arbitrary width for a sequence concluding with a narrow remainder strip. For the colour design concept, he uses a Halfway-Paintings principle: he assigns one half of the colours in advance, but chooses the other half as he feels fit. The light-coloured strips stand out and the dark ones retreat; this creates a horizontal movement in the picture, and it is as though different sounds and tone-fields are emerging. Certain colours recur here again and again, like a tune and relate to each other, while others force they way in. The narrow dividing lines between the strips that reveal the canvas also engage here: they function like a pulsating background sound that holds the whole picture together.
The strips themselves are a language tool for Hinteregger that can be derived from many possible sources, for example from art, architecture, fashion or design. But the exclusive quality that drives his arrangement of the strips reduces the associative spectrum to clear formal perception. The strip window built into the installation as a historical ready-made identifies a possible reference point without asserting itself as a direct model. It makes reference to a formal language that emerged in the context of Josef Hoffmann’s “plain, simple and beautiful” design principle that practised the later Minimal Design movement at an early stage. Hinteregger defines his pictures as “pictures about little”, in a close relationship with this. But his pictures open up a large bandwidth of possible variations and effective planes within their clear system.
Hinteregger’s chosen titles add yet another broad interpretive plane here. Titles such as Untitled (Water Reflections on River Shannon)
seem to tell us something about the pictures. In fact, they are assigned to the pictures randomly, and emerge via a copy-paste process: he links art-historical quotations – “Water Reflections”, for example, as a reference to the pictorial concepts of Impressionism – with the names of real but little-known places on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Here Hinteregger is playing with the practice of relying on picture titles as a key to understanding the work: “We do not see what we read”, as he puts it. But the titles do not actually put us on the wrong track. On the contrary, they always express a feeling that the work seems to circle around: a feeling of slowness, of calm, that they share with secluded places or the black moorland lake.