Anita Leisz (b. 1973 in Leoben, Austria) is the fourth recipient of the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize, an award to support young artists who are based in Austria, following Anna-Sophie Berger, Julian Turner, and Ute Müller.
Anita Leiszs works seem minimalistic, abstract, and reduced at first glance. A more thorough second glance allows us to look behind the scenes, revealing Leiszs love for detail. Her works create a tense relationship between interior and exterior space, between the flawless white cube and its structural skeleton, while she manages to direct the viewers eye not only to the spatial whole but especially to the works changing network of associations. Opening up a space for a variety of projections, she gives the viewer options that vary depending on the spatial situation. Her works influence the places in which they are presented and vice versa.
Anita Leiszs artistic practice cannot be easily pinned down, neither to a defined medium nor any particular interpretation nor a specific spatial situation. Yet it is exactly this ambiguity which makes Leiszs work so alluring: She juggles obvious manipulations with those that elude us, makes things visible and at the same time conceals them, balances precisely targeted interventions with a way of simply leaving things be.
Her method is furthermore characterized by a use of inconspicuous materials frequently, construction materialsthat appear anything but loud and yet have much to say. Leiszs concerns materialize above all in her way of treating surfaces, which often bear traces of wear and tear. Markings such as scratches are anything but rare in her works. Here, Leisz breaks with the fetish of minimal art for industrial materials. If the dreams and aspirations of industrialism reached their zenith in minimal art, Leiszs oeuvre can be read as a wake-up call of sorts that rings out from industrialisms abandoned construction site.
For her first solo exhibition at mumok
, the artist created a new group of works that was manufactured in cooperation with the RIESS enamel factory, an Austrian family-run enterprise, with whom the artist had already collaborated on previous projects. Shown in the exhibition are white enameled, frame-like constructions. Her works clearly structured forms enter into a dynamic dialogue with the space that surrounds them and work both as single objects and as one large expansive installation.
The jury, composed of Cosima Rainer, head of the art collection and archive at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Franz Rainer Thalmair, curator at Kunstraum Lakeside, Thomas D. Trummer, director of Kunsthaus Bregenz, Georg Kapsch, CEO of Kapsch Group, and mumok director Karola Kraus, selected Anita Leisz from nine nominees. From the numerous submissions distinguished by their high quality, the jury reached the unanimous decision to award Anita Leisz with the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize 2019. Her oeuvreincluding paintings, sculptures, and spatial installationsis characterized by an extraordinarily sophisticated treatment of materials, in which the artist draws inspiration from interior fittings. Serially produced wood-fiberboard, particleboard, plasterboard, or sheet metal are rendered via economic, precise interventions. Her works clearly structured forms enter into a dynamic dialogue with the space that surrounds them, unfolding an sense of atmosphere that seems to speak directly to the viewers, stated the jury.
Anita Leisz studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Professor Franz Xaver Ölzant and Professor Michelangelo Pistoletto. Exhibitions include: mumok; Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg; Kunsthalle Bern; Belvedere 21; MAK; Kunsthalle Exnergasse; Künstlerhaus Graz; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Salzburger Kunstverein; Secession, Vienna; Generali Foundation, Vienna; Kunsthalle Nürnberg; Kunstverein Hamburg.
Curated by Marianne Dobner