Marking a major exploration and presentation of the artist’s work, Pace Gallery is currently showcasing a selection of paintings, scores and relics from artist Hermann Nitsch, an impressive collaboration with the artist’s Foundation that also celebrates the first English translation of his autobiography.
Over the course of more than 60 years, Nitsch cultivated an intensive practice that spans performance, painting, drawing, printmaking, film, photography, music, poetry, and philosophy. A leading figure of the Austrian avant- garde, Nitsch was a founder of the Viennese Actionism movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The disruptive ethos of this movement brought irreverent performance work to the forefront of Vienna’s art scene in the latter half of the 20th century. Nitsch’s extensive performance work often features nudity, multifarious noises, and enactments of tragedy in explorations of rituals and primordial urges. The artist’s seminal work is the large-scale six-day Orgies Mysteries Theatre, which he began developing in the mid-1950s.
The show here unifies works created by Nitsch between 1962 and 2020, offering a holistic survey of his painting and photography practices. In his paintings, the artist often incorporated splatters and splashes of oil or acrylic sometimes mixed with blood, producing visceral and evocative abstractions through a highly physical and gestural process. Nitsch understood his painting actions as the visual grammar of his theatrical actions, applied to a picture plane. The gallery’s presentation will include a selection of Nitsch’s large-scale paintings as well as two vibrant works on paper that the artist created in 2020—these dynamic abstractions featuring mesmeric plays of color and line speak to Nitsch’s formal explorations in his late career.
The exhibition delves deeply into Nitsch’s work, and presents his canvases and relics in an equal light that emphasizes the artist’s practice more as a series of interlocking methods and modes to arrive at a visual and perceptual end. Turning the impressions of gore and the challenging tonality of his works to create shocking and visceral experiences for the viewer, the show makes for a striking conversation point with the Paul McCarthy show (who was deeply influenced by the artist), a few blocks away Gagosian.
The show closes April 29th.
– D. Creahan
Hermann Nitsch at Pace [Exhibition Site]