Gallery Szaal

Gunter Damisch

Steyr 1958 – 2016 Vienna
Gunter Damisch initially went to university to read medicine, history and German studies, but, after only a few semesters, a visit to the summer academy taught by Claus Pack inspired him to transfer to the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1978 to 1983 he studied in the masterclasses taught by Maximilian Melcher and Arnulf Rainer.

In the 1980s, Gunter Damisch was one of the most successful and internationally recognized Neo-Expressionist (“Neue Wilde”) artists, who also included Siegfried Anzinger, Erwin Bohatsch, Herbert Brandl, Hubert Scheibl and Hubert Schmalix. Alongside Herbert Brandl and others, Damisch was a member of a group of young artists who strove to develop figurative painting and can be seen as successors to the original “Neue Wilde” generation.

For Damisch, printing techniques and drawing were of central importance. In 1992, he became a visiting professor at the Vienna Academy (graphic arts masterclass), and in 1998 was appointed to an academic chair.
“In the growth and transformation of humanity’s imaginary worlds, the network of signs, the weave of lines, lays a central trail of human consciousness. The fundamental possibilities of creativity begin in the line, in the drawing. From there, lines of development lead into all areas of human creativity. At the same time, concentrating on this fundamental work and implementing it in printing and reproduction processes is a specific element within the field of visual arts. This area of graphic arts, which has long been evolving and is still in motion, is a realm in which lives the individual, eccentric artistic attitude that follows narrative threads and structural furrows, and continues to spin them. It is these specific manifestations of graphic arts and the development of individual artistic personalities that are taken into account in an open and personal working relationship. The workshop-like character of educational institutions, and the individual pursuit of the specific possibilities offered by graphic arts, pave the way towards adopting an independent artistic position.”

In his intensely colourful oil paintings, Damisch developed a special micro and macro cosmos within which, depending on their perspective and which phase of work they belong to, it is possible to find microbes and ciliates, or planets populated by “stayers”.

As well as paintings and prints, Damisch worked with photography and sculpture, as well as larger metal pieces whose manifestation as “idiosyncratically populated objects” make them instantly recognizable to art connoisseurs. From the 1980s onwards, Gunter Damisch figured in numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions. “His works captivate the viewer with their lyrical narrative quality – a relic of representationalism – which is especially present in their titles. As is so often the case in Gunter Damisch’s work, they have a high onomatopoeic quality and a linguistic sensibility that translates the artist’s painterly expressiveness and skilled draftsmanship into language,” writes Angela Stief in her book about the artist.

Damisch received numerous prizes, including the Otto Mauer Prize (1985), the Max Weiler Prize (1985), the Karl Rössnig Prize (1991), the Prize of the City of Vienna (1995), the Anton Faistauer Prize of the State of Salzburg (1996), the Upper Austrian State Culture Prize for Graphic Art (1998) and the Lower Austrian State Culture Prize (2011).

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