Jürgen Tabor
Vienna Downbeat – On the concepts and contexts of the exhibition Untitled (Flow)
Sabine Schaschl
Partially Gone with the Wind
Fiona Liewehr
Transitive Network Spaces
Cliff Lauson
Slow Flow
Matthia Löbke
With a Black Ink – In the Studio of Herbert Hinteregger
Walter Seidl
Aesthetics of Reduction
Martin Prinzhorn
Additive Abstraction
Fiona Liewehr
Herbert Hinteregger & Michael Sailstorfer
at Georg Kargl BOX, Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna

Jürgen Tabor
“To destroy an object to create a painting”
Günther Moschig
Herbert Hinteregger – Color as Presence in Space
Fiona Liewehr
Koenraad Dedobbeleer/Herbert Hinteregger
A sense of disquietude concerning the existing order of things

Elisabeth Fiedler
A 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…”

Walter Seidl
Aesthetics of Reduction

The history of Minimal Art, Land Art, and Arte povera manifests itself in various different art practices in an expanded field in which the original approaches are revisited in terms of new material aesthetics. In this context, the dispositive of painting is permanently situated in an energy field of abstraction, which explores the relation of color and form and puts different takes on material to the test. This includes prefabricated industrial products being put to use as painterly devices, and mechanisms of sculptural abstraction being applied to painterly contexts. Art historically, the rules of abstraction were defined by the neo-avant-garde of the 1950s as an act of self-liberation from the immediately previous historical events. This led to an “aesthetics of abstraction,” which, in a backward leap, recurred to the modes of abstraction of the prewar and interwar periods.1 In exploring models of abstraction, the very parameters of the painterly approach were called into question, and at present, the quest is for an aesthetics of redefinition based on the productive means available, which, since the 1990s at the latest, have been subject to sampling, mixing, and crossover processes and have had increasingly little to do with the application of paint in any traditional sense.

The Tyrol-born artist Herbert Hinteregger, who studied “Abstract Painting” with Walter Obholzer at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, examines in painting-informed pictorial formations and installations the function and qualities of ballpoint ink, the painterly gestural use of which is the focus of his work. The ink is gained by draining countless pens and is then applied to various different substrates in serial arrangements. This conceptual approach has a large number of possible stages of realization, with the final result entailing a purposive alienation effect with respect to traditional painterly and visual parameters. The conscious choice to use ballpoint ink in the information age is a reference to the approaching end of handwriting and its being replaced by the keyboard. Hinteregger’s use of a mass product also connects to American Modernism in the second half of the 20th century, questioning aspects of display in a painterly and spatial discourse. Like some of his American fellow artists, Hinteregger refers to the mass production of the consumer world in his work, and in this specific case to the dialectics of product housing and content. These are also juxtaposed when painterly abstraction in ballpoint ink enters into a spatial relationship with an installation of countless empty pen barrels.

For the Krems exhibition, Hinteregger developed a spatial installation of empty ball-pen barrels that connects back to his 2006 show entitled all over – store at the Vienna gallery Georg Kargl Permanent. The “store” as a classic model of the display is stripped of its commercial function here and, in an abstract-spatial move, stacked with thousands of empty pen barrels instead. This is a reference to Claes Oldenburg’s piece The Store of 1961, in which the artist presented differently colored sculptures of, among other things, foodstuffs. Hinteregger, however, only features one product in his installation, which, in its monochromy, introduces a level of radical abstraction to the space. The empty pen barrels with their blue caps look like short brush strokes. This brings up associations of Ellsworth Kelly’s Brushstrokes Cut into Forty-Nine Squares and Arranged by Chance of 1951, a collage in which a sheet of paper hatched with ink-pen strokes is cut up into square pieces, which are then rearranged so that the strokes all point in different directions, which creates a spatial impression.

Hinteregger explores in his installation processual elements and aspects of production conditions and, on a spatial level, refers through the emptied pen barrels to the unpredictable amount of time it takes to get the ink out of the industrial product again in order to utilize it as a painterly means. He addresses the process of deceleration, which is an essential part of his approach to his minimalist abstract compositions, for which the ink is mostly squeezed out of the plastic tube from inside the pen and only in a few cases, like a series of sponge paintings from the years 2000 to 2005, is bought wholesale and directly applied as a color surface. The time dimension of this meticulous process of extracting the ink naturally has an impact on how long it takes to create the picture. Spending time in quiet natural places like the one he was born in is used by the artist for contemplation, which accompanies his creation process. Working on the individual tableaux, Hinteregger responds to the uniform production aesthetics of ball-pen manufacturing by creating, in a time-consuming painterly manner, sculptural-abstract perceptual patterns.

Herbert Hinteregger’s exploration of painting, abstraction, and their conceptual development thus unfolds in picture panels created with ball-pen ink. The artist mainly uses the classic ballpoint color, blue, which takes on a slight red tinge on the substrate, as well as, more rarely, green, red, and black. The specific effect generated by the pictures comes from the surface structure, which has a metallic sheen. Albeit being strictly geometrical, the shiny surface is somewhat suggestive of Impressionist coloration. The basically striated pictorial structures are informed by the rules of Minimal Art and demonstrate how the exploration of painting and deliberate material use is continued in the present time while a certain skepticism about painting as such is also making itself felt. Hinteregger uses two different types of substrate in the process: on the one hand, the ballpoint ink is directly applied to unprimed canvas, and on the other, the artist uses tulle as a painting surface, which exposes the underlying structure of the stretcher frame. The classic aesthetics of structural stripes evokes associations with the works of Agnes Martin, but Hinteregger, with his specific material concept, takes the position of painting back to the level of industrial production, deconstructing its process character from its basic parameters up with his deceleration method. His art production takes its starting point from the way of mass production, which he visually traces in order to put it through a pictorial-technical analysis and break it down into its constituent parts. Hinteregger thus follows an aesthetics of redefining painting or, more precisely, thinks beyond it in that he gets rid of the usual oils or acrylics to create new surface consistencies.

In their entirety, the works question the history and perpetuation of Constructivist abstraction processes as well as the inherent technical developments, which Herbert Hinteregger points to in various different stripe combinations. The given pattern of industrial perfection is undercut by the artistic process of manual production, which leads to shifts and distortions in the arrangement of stripes. The pictures oscillate between suggested perfection and shifting geometric arrays when, for example, sections of stripes are moved up and down, making stripes switch color or change in width. Hinteregger thus refers to structures of abstract painting and explores its laws using very consciously and consis-tently employed materials. The individual pictures are simply named Untitled with the additional information given in brackets always referring to some specific place or landscape feature. Apart from further developing abstract formations in a specific material aesthetic, Hinteregger emphasizes the nature and process character of the medium itself by using a tulle surface instead of the classical canvas in his most recent pictures, thereby focusing on the frame structure that shines through in the pictures, overlaid only by a few stripes. The window-like component, the emphasis on transparence, which is brought into play here, leads to a shift in perspective induced by the different levels of abstraction of substrate, ink surface, and the back of the picture. The dispositive of painting is examined by Hinteregger with respect to its basic parameters, with the traditional painterly gesture moving to the background, being merely intimated through the reductionist application of ballpoint ink.

Walter Seidl

1 Cf. Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry (Cambridge, Mass., 2000).