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Alexandra Baumgartner studio
Alexandra Baumgartner studio

Alexandra Baumgartner explores the entanglements of the soul. Her surrealist collages, paintings and objects tell of the searching ego that seems lost between the demons of nature and the constraints of society. The first work in our presentation, Hypnosis, is a parable of this condition. The dancer Rudolf Nurejew, a symbol of the free mobility of man, is spellbound, bound by the test image he stares at. The artist works mainly with found photographs, which she enlarges and then further works on. What interests her about the old photo is the punctum, “that accidental thing about it that captivates me (but also wounds me)” (Roland Barthes).

Looking for the ego

These artworks confront us with damaged, lost, hidden faces. The face, the first and most personal expression of man, is sutured, patched, extinguished. The faces are covered by coiffures, replaced by a sculpture or a second face that looks like a mask. The eyes, the “windows to the soul” are connected or completely closed. We do not know which ego we have before us, just as the person himself does not know his ego – or has completely lost it.

Mirror, levels of reality

Also, the mirror, in which we usually “recognize” each other in the double sense of the word, can not solve the entanglements of the soul. This mirror is black, we only see our shadows. It illustrates the different realities that overlap in this work. The starting point for the collages is a reality that has already been depicted, a photograph that is combined with other photos, with other realities, and these two realities make a third combination.

Vise of society

The many threads in this oeuvre refer to the entanglements of the ego, to personal relationships, and also to social constraints. Most motifs date back to the late nineteenth century, with their rigid morality, when a woman made a scandal when she bared her ankles. There is certainly violence in the game: in Evidence wooden posts are lined up like the rifles of a firing squad. And the pretty garden Fountain becomes a nightmare: The faces of cute putti are distorted into grotesque faces, the cheerful game becomes a fight for life and death. The mirrors come from the no less rigid 1950s, as do the small lampshades, which are stacked to form an abstract sculpture à la Brancusi.

Sigmund Freud's consulting room in Vienna with the legendary first couch
Sigmund Freud’s consulting room in Vienna with the legendary first couch

Sigmund Freud

It is not difficult to see in the works of the artist born in Salzburg and – besides Berlin – living in Vienna a closeness to psychoanalysis: It is the Sigmund Freud gene, which works in the Austrian. The collages reflect the unconscious defined by Freud that controls us more than we sometimes like. The distant times from which the material of the artworks originate correspond to the distant events that characterize our psyche, and the various levels of reality have their equivalent in the spheres of the ego, super-ego and id.

Surrealism

The work of Alexandra Baumgartner has a forerunner in classical Surrealism: it too deals with the unconscious and the supernatural, with the abysses and entanglements of the soul. Consider the scene in Bunuel’s Un chien andalou, where a knife in a man’s hand cuts through the eye of a woman. Or the similarly scandalous work (admired by the Surrealists) of the Marquis de Sade with its psycho-sexual debauchery beyond all norms.

The power of the feminine

A prominent role is played by the power of the feminine. It is most clearly in Entreakt, one of the most memorable works of Alexandra Baumgartner. A hysteric, a patient of the Parisian neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in the late 19th century, brings chairs to dance. Her magical gesture of summoning is an expression of her psychopathic energy. The clinical picture of hysteria was diagnosed almost exclusively in women, and Charcot insisted on showing his patients in public. Thus, this woman is both a victim of male fantasies and carrier of a supernatural force. How fragile it all is, show the chairs, which are only tilted against each other and can fall over at the slightest impact.

A statement by the artist

“The subject of my work are psychological and moral abysses, the physical decay of human beings, transience, complex relationships, borderline states, loss of control and fears. It is an analysis of the fragile relationships between deeply personal feelings and external social constraints. The nature that determines us, and the person who tries to control it, but in the end remains inferior. Everyone has this fight with themselves. The beast      within us, the animal that you try to control and that keeps coming through, whether we like it or not. “

Please visit also the website of Alexandra Baumgartner and her pages on Faceboook and ARTPILlinossiartstory has recorded a conversation with the artist, and she makes a statement on Youtube.

More works on the subject “new forms of Surrealism” can be found on our website at Florian Pelka as well as on the  TOP pages “real/sur-real” with works of painting and photography.

Tags: #collage #surrealism #neosurrealismus #psychology #soul #sigmundfreud #turnofthecentury #fifties #socialconstraints #feminism #moral #wilhelminism.

Works

Biography

Biography

Lives and works in Vienna and Berlin

1973 born in Salzburg
1994-1998 University Mozarteum Salzburg
1998-2000 Photography College, Höhere Grafische Lehranstalt Vienna
2000-2004 University of Applied Arts, Vienna
2015-2017 Lectureship “Experimental design/collage”, HTW – University of applied Sciences, Berlin
  Lives and works in Berlin and Vienna

Exhibitions (S=Solo)

2018 Salzburger Kunstverein Kabinett, Salzburg (S)
Futurs Antérieurs, Maison Guerlain – Parcours Privé de la FIAC, Paris
Parallel Vienna 2018, Arcc.art Gallery Statement, curated by Sophie Haslinger (S)
New Black Romanticism, Topicuv Salon, Prague
Neue Schwarze Romantik, Palais Thurn und Taxis, Bregenz
Inside Out – Fotografie und Psychologie, DZ Bank Art Collection, Frankfurt on Main
Great Art Award, exhibition of the nominees, Traklhaus, Salzburg
2017 Reinheit in der Unvollkommenheit, Salzburger Kunstverein
Welcome Home, Fotogalerie Wien, with Anita Wiek, Vienna (S)
Circles, Projektraum Lucas Cuturi, Vienna (S)
Neue Schwarze Romantik, Bethanien, Berlin
Wir nennen es Arbeit, Galleria Opere Scelte, Turin
New Black Romanticism, The National Museum of Art, Bucharest
Elastic Collisions, Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna
Stratified-Fragmentierte Welt(en), das weisse haus, Vienna
2016 Spectrum 2 – about paper, Galerie Eigenheim, Berlin
Winter Salon, Raum für aktuelle Editionen, Vienna
Instant Editions, Parallel Vienna 2016, Vienna
Sommer.Frische.Kunst, Bad Gastein
Cross Section1, Busche-Kunst, Berlin
Spiegelgasse 1, Galerie Börgmann, Mönchengladbach
2015 Arcadia Unbound, Funkaus Nalepastraße, Berlin
The Collage Principle, Forum Frohner, Krems
Queertopia: It Takes a Village, 68projects, Berlin
Audience, Corner Window Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (S)
Saloon, Sexauer Gallery, Berlin
Against the Day, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin
Instant Edition, Museum Leopold, Vienna
Intervall, Städtisches Museum Engen + Galerie, Engen (S)
2014 f/12.2, Grantees exhibitions, DZ Bank Art Collection, Frankfurt on Main
Lot of Work, Little Red, Salon Hansa, Berlin
Samples, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
Painting Was a Lady Goes America, Wonderloch Kellerland, New York
Money Works 2, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin
Chairs and Stools in Art, Galerie im Traklhaus, Salzburg
The Black Dog, Gesellschaft der Freunde junger Kunst, Baden-Baden
Talent, Galerie 401contemporary, Berlin
Psycho Killer, Galerie Börgmann, Mönchengladbach
The Hot 100 Auction, Paddle8, New York
2013 Let us snow, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin
Hypermart, Galerie Trapp, Salzburg
Pop Hits & Nightmares, Artspace Rhein Main, Offenbach
Artists In Love, Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin
Entreakt, Berlin-Weekly, Berlin (S)
Open Art/Summerstage, Vienna
2012 Death Can Dance (Curator: Lori Hersberger), Townhouse, Zurich
Nightmare, Metro Manila, Green Papaya Art Projects, Quezon City, Philippines
Auction for Adisco, Sotheby´s Milan
Alptraum, Goethe Institute Johannesburg, South Africa
2011 Le choix de Paris, Cité internationale des arts, Paris
I am a work in progress, Periscope, Salzburg
Nightmare, Blank Projects, Cape town; The Company Gallery, Los Angeles;
 Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin; Cell Project Space, London
Tape Modern No.19, Tape Club, Berlin


Grants, awards

2018 Annual grant for visual arts of the Land Salzburg
2017 Promotion Award of the Land Salzburg
2016 Artist in Residence, Sommer.Frische.Kunst, Bad Gastein
2014 Top 5 Shortlisted Artists, DZ Bank Art Collection, Frankfurt on Main
2008-09 Cité internationale des arts Paris, a years studio
2004 Emanuel and Sophie Fohn Foundation, Munich
2003 Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Foundation, Vienna
1998 Internationale Sommerakademie Salzburg, Leon Golub/Nancy Spero