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Colour Rain at the Bamboo Grove: Seminal Austrian artist Hubert Schmalix turns 60
Hubert Schmalix, Untitled, 2012. Oil on canvas, 240 x 200 cm.
GRAZ.- Hubert Schmalix, intrepid protagonist of the ‘wild youth’ art movement, celebrates his 60th birthday. An occasion he chooses to mark with a special exhibition of never-before-seen large format paintings in his hometown of Graz, Austria. To be precise, at Reinisch Contemporary, the gallery of his long-standing friend and early collector, Helmut Reinisch.

With Colour Rain at the Bamboo Grove, Schmalix celebrates both a round birthday and a new series of paintings: his ‘bamboo paintings’ deal with the plant as an epitome of exotic lifestyles; as an icon of the modern art and design canon. The seeming simplicity of the motif leads the eye of the observer straight to the delicacy of painting itself. Colouring and brush stroke almost entirely absorb the motif, or rather, the narrative content.

Colour Rain at the Bamboo Grove encompasses the latest works by the seminal L.A.-based artist, who earned international recognition in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a trailblazer of Austrian contemporary art. Incredible colouring, new visual themes and an insistent variety characterise his current work, in which the influence of his American surroundings and his asiaphile collector’s passion come together. This passion turns his paintings into fascinating, fragmentary glimpses into his universe.

Curator Günther Holler-Schuster about Colour Rain at the Bamboo Grove: “Everything in the paintings of Hubert Schmalix appears decelerated, diagrammed or simplified, and opens up the concentrated gaze to the act of painting. Through the means of quasi-serial painting – as an added element – he achieves the transformation of the image concept from mimetic to abstract. The nudes, as well as the recently created bamboo paintings, never pursue the goal of representing reality. Rather, they are small fragments of the seemingly endless possibilities of image creation.”

As in his other motifs, wich range from nudes, houses and Christ figures to interiors and flowers, Schmalix uses the sensuality of colour in his bamboo paintings to create sensations in the mundane, in the non-descript. What bestows his paintings with their unmistakable character is the transformation of a reality we all assume to know, but which does not exist as such.

In February 2012, Reinisch Contemporary (re)opened with a Hubert Schmalix exhibition. Ten months later, Colour Rain at the Bamboo Grove marks the gallery’s tenth exhibition. The gallery’s rapid sequence of exhibitions celebrates and supports emerging and, local and international talents, while continuously unearthing new, exciting aspects of contemporary art.

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