HERMAN NITSCH / KARL STENGEL
punti di vista
In this exhibition two artists meet who could at first sight appear to be foreign and distant. Both, however, are sons of what was the Austro-Hungarian Empire and were born on the banks of the Danube. Karl Stengel in Novisad in 1925 and Hermann Nitsch in Vienna in 1938. Between these two dates the rise of Mussolini’s fascism, the “great purges” of Stalin and the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by Hitler happened. Dramatic and painful is the biography of Stengel. When, in June 1941, Germany, an ally of Hungary, declared war on the USSR, Karl left, at 17, military for the Russian front.
What is the meaning of this confrontation between Stengel and Nitsch? What is the intuition? That beyond the differences in style (and the “points of view”) both have the urgency to express, sometimes in a painful way, their own vision of the world, an inner core, which concerns everyone. And another thing they have in common: color as an intimate question of painting and the music it carries inside. Wasn’t Kandinsky talking about the musical effect that color exerts on the soul? Here, in the works of the two artists, red dominates. For Nitsch it is the color of blood and flesh, and for a long time the only chromatic shade to be spread and splashed. It represented the painter’s “blood sweat” and the Dionysian excess. Later – these acrylics from 2000 prove it – he had used the other colors of the spectrum: the black of the cosmic night, the white and violet light of the merging galaxies, the colors of autumn and fermented wine. For Stengel too, red is pure energy and beauty. But color becomes a “lyrical abstraction”, a virgin space free from patterns that is filled with emotions and visions. Another peculiarity should be underlined: the artist creates a synthesis between the Figurative and the Abstract as perceived by Kandinsky and also Venturino Venturi: “Art is always born in an abstract way”. For this reason in Stengel the drawing has a purely symbolic value, not an illustrative one. It becomes an intimate diary of the soul, “the letter” that he sends to the world, to himself and to us all.