Häusler Contemporary Zürich is proud to present »Coincidence«, a selection of recent and new works by the internationally renowned Viennese artist Brigitte Kowanz, who was recently awarded the Austrian State Prize, the country's most prestigious artistic distinction. The central formal elements in Kowanz's seminal work are language and light in various shapes and forms.
The effect of Kowanz's »Mirror Works«, which hold a distinctive place in this exhibition, derives from their material properties: both transparent and reflecting, their two-way mirrors blur the boundaries between the inside and the outside. The mirroring effect in the glass cube entitled »Beyond Light« allows the neon writing to extend infinitely from the light source into a series of virtual spaces, transcending the limits of the object to convey the impression of a seemingly limitless space.
The works from the series »Indirect Transparency - Indirect Light« form another important part of the present exhibition. In these works the artist combines two striking yet ubiquitous inventions: the light bulb and the TV set. By combining these two common elements - which, individually, would hardly attract our attention - allows her to unsettle our viewing habits and to question our perceptive faculties.
Instead of lighting its surroundings, the light bulb seems to radiate a flickering TV image. Since the early 1990s Kowanz has been experimenting with the properties of artificial light, which she visualises by confronting the classic shape of the light bulb with the medial light of TV screens. In light of the increasingly pervasive use of media in our society, this series of works is as topical as ever. »Extension« and »Exchange« are light sculptures formed in the artist's handwriting. While Kowanz resumes the drawing gestures of her earlier work, the emphasis here lies on the calligraphic effect and the act of writing as such, rather than on the readability of the written word.
Similar to her wall pieces, colour plays an important role in the artist's most recent work, a series of boxes made from coloured acrylic glass, lit by contrasting colour gliding over the boxes in organically shaped waves. The seemingly fortuitous strip is in a fact an encoded sentence: »The enciphered message locked within these letters produces the emergence of its manifested form«. The key to this enigmatic sentence is to be found in a simple binary system: at each »R« occurring in the sentence, the strip swings to the right, while at each »L«, it deflects to the left. Depending on the language and the exact formulation of the sentence, a variety of significantly different and individual forms take shape.
Despite their formal differences, the works shown in »Coincidence« - using mirrors, light or writing - ideally complement each other, interacting equally with each other, the exhibition space, and the viewer. Thus a kind of complete artwork emerges, where glass can be at once transparent and reflecting, and where immaterial light materialises into linguistic symbols, which in turn shed their initial significance to become abstract images.
Brigitte Kowanz has been a professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienne since 1997. In 2010 Vienna's Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK) will present an extensive retrospective of her work.