KAPSCH AWARD 2013
In 2013 Reinhold Ponesch was chosen for the prestigious Kapsch Art Award, the Project 'CHANGING VIEW'.
Reinhold Ponesch had his first experiences with the visual arts as a very young man. In 2001, he discovered his passion for painting as his personal creative form of expression. Ponesch works with acrylic and oil colors, carbon and permanent markets, and likes to mix paper inlays as in a collage in his typically colorful compositions. There are always symbols and texts in his works. In addition to his artistic activity, Ponesch lectures at an Austrian art academy, and his works have been shown in exhibitions in Vienna, Lower Austria and Vaduz.The images in the calendar were selected in close cooperation with Reinhold Ponesch. There are no commissioned works in the calendar, says Brigitte Herdlicka, head of Kapsch art sponsoring, because they wanted to give artists the opportunity to present their work, perspectives, and life worlds. From 3,000 to 3,500 copies of the calendar will be sent out across the world.The Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 was presented at a festive ceremony in Vienna. You can see the greatest moments of this event here and get to know the artist and his work: (all Videos: Kapsch)
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – January
In the month of January, Reinhold Ponesch explains why painting means so much to him, and which materials he loves working with most.
I came naturally to the medium of painting. I tried out a few other things, of course, including the performing arts, but painting was the best fit for my personality. I sense and feel most when painting; I’m most able to work in combinations, and my creativity grows best in the medium. The advantage of painting is that the objects remain. Once we are gone and leave this earth, these works will still be here. And in the performing arts, what remains are impressions. That’s also beautiful; when we’re no longer here, then at least the images remain.
I love working most on the floor, and I use a very natural cotton fabric. I lay it on the floor, without framing it, and that’s how I love to work. Of course with acrylic colors and other materials such as sand, for example; I like paper a lot, and carbon pencils – you can do a great deal with those –, sometimes egg tempera and every once in a while: oil. I don’t know why; it depends on my mood: oil takes a very long time to dry, and I’m the kind of person who likes to keep working rather quickly – to get the next idea in motion, the next image. I do work quite often on three or four paintings at once, they emerge at the same time, but still it’s important that the color dries quickly.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – February
In the month of February Reinhold Ponesch tells how he translates his works and ideas and where he gets his inspiration from.
Of course, there are many different ways to approach artistic work, and painting. My two major approaches are:
I have an idea that I then attempt to realize. But that has both advantages and disadvantages.
My second way of working: I simply go to the canvas and see what happens in the process and accept whatever forms emerge. This allows an idea to coalesce out of the process, or permits me to develop a new motif. This has the disadvantage that often nothing at all emerges, then I become exasperated. And from that exasperation comes a feeling of relaxation, and then a completely different motif will come out. The advantage of this approach: the paintings are very, very dynamic.
I draw inspiration from everywhere, actually. Whether in daily life, when I ride the subway; or whenever I’m sitting at a café and take out a notebook and draw the person across from me and then use these drawings in a painting; and of course I draw on other artists. What are other artists doing? Why are they doing it that way? I work a great deal with books, developing stories, with dictionaries, with newspapers, where I pull out symbols and integrate them in paintings – I try in part to make a story, and then not to –, I simply use it and the story unfolds unconsciously.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – March
In a brief video report, Reinhold Ponesch describes his thoughts and feelings when painting his work, “Letter to Schröder”
I can conceal a great deal behind the title, ‘Letter to Schröder’ – it hides quite a bit. While I was painting, I was processing a piece of writing from the Albertina, on paper, from a poster. And as I was doing this, I was thinking about the Albertina: What is the Albertina? A museum with great artworks. Actually I would like to exhibit my work in the Albertina some day. What painter would not want to show their work there? And the next thought that came was: Klaus Albrecht Schröder – the head of the Albertina. How can I get in touch with him? I’ll write him a letter. So I took a carbon pencil and wrote this letter to Herr Doktor Schröder on the canvas. It’s about power, about the evaluation of art, because these people in the museum business – whether museum directors, curators, or gallery owners – can exercise major influence on the entire art market by explaining: What is art? What was art? How is it evaluated? That’s what this picture is about. To a certain extent, it’s about the power relationships within this entire artistic construct.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – April
In a brief video report, Reinhold Ponesch describes his thoughts when painting his work, “Masked Man”
I began ‘Masked Man’ with a permanent marker, writing down random numbers. Then I worked with acrylic color and then, suddenly, I realized that I no longer knew what I was doing. As if I were the mediator between the brush and the canvas, and I painted and painted and painted. And after about an hour, I stepped away from this energy, took a few steps back, and looked at the canvas and thought: “Wow, cool, cool picture! How did I make it?” Then I continued working carefully so that I didn’t destroy anything. That was eventually my fear: if I go over it and over it again, then maybe it won’t be what it was before, because I was in a completely different frame of mind. I sensed there were two different energies, two different worlds. I continued working on it though for a few days. The Masked Man – when it’s hung up, it takes up almost an entire room – is a very special painting.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – May
In a brief video report, Reinhold Ponesch tells the story behind his work, “Maasai”
Next to “Masked Man”, my favorite painting is “Maasai”. There’s a very special story behind the painting. I had an idea to begin with, and I transferred the idea to the canvas.
I like African figures a lot, African figurines made of wood, and African art in general. And there are some nice people I know in Vienna who have an African store where they sell African art. One day, I was having a cup of tea with them, and I saw a 2.5-meter tall figure that somehow spoke to me. I asked them what it cost, and I was able to buy this figure for a very, very good price, and I took it home with me on the subway – a 2.5-meter figure makes a pretty funny impression, so it was a lot of fun.
In the Maasai tribe, whenever a Maasai is married, regardless of whether it’s a man or woman, then they cut off all their hair, and that’s how people know that they are married. And that was totally unusual for me.
At home, I set up the figure in my bedroom and thought to myself: “No, it has such power, it’s so massive, that won’t work!” So, over to the atelier. OK, fits, can stand here for now.
One day I thought: “I want to make a painting out of this figure,” and I concentrated on the face. And I had the very specific idea of drawing the face as realistically as possible in the upper part of the canvas with graphite and carbon, and then working in a fully abstract way in the lower part. And then the painting “Maasai” emerged, in which I worked in a totally abstract way in the lower area with acrylic colors, but tried with a few strokes to sketch the body and then put the head on top in the upper area. This painting was very difficult to paint because one stroke or one color more can destroy the entire painting. And that is the difficult thing about working with an idea. That means one, two strokes too many, and the whole idea is actually dead.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – June
Reinhold Ponesch talks about his search for his own style and the painters who influenced him along the way.
Jackson Pollock and his highly expressive way of painting certainly stands at the beginning of my career as a painter. And my style back then – so many attempts to paint like him. But sooner or later this painting process exhausted itself, and I moved on. So what comes then, after this painting? What is there still in abstraction? Abstraction is not yet old. Maybe we can say, if we count the developmental early years, that it’s been around for about a hundred years. But painting has existed for thousands of years, so abstraction is still very, very young. And what I’m looking for is: How can an abstract image become even more abstract? What does it have to have? What else is there? Of course you find artists along the way who are great painters. One of them is Jean-Michel Basquiat, an Afro-American painter who died very young, and from my perspective – there’s a lot of debate about this – created very, very great paintings. Why? Because of his stroke lines, his freedom, his ability to paint completely in the moment. Basquiat was simply in the present. He wanted to paint. He experienced success very early on. The expression in his paintings are like surfaces that weave together, how strokes flow over surfaces, with such lightness – it looks wildly easy, but it’s incredibly difficult. I don’t try to follow this same stylistic direction because then nothing new will emerge. What seems important to me: Which techniques do artists use to get their results? And it’s these approaches and elements – that’s what interests me and what I take away from it and use in my own style to create something new.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – July
Reinhold Ponesch about 'Changing Views'.
In ‘Changing Views’, I think about an approach that considers how, even in art, a great deal can be changed. What can be changed is what is at issue here. I think that, especially in art, but also in painting in particular, there are approaches and techniques that can change our vantage point. If we open ourselves creatively, take a step to the side, and say: “Let’s try another way,” then we can catch a glimpse of or sense things that open up brand new ways of seeing to us. And that happens primarily in art. Example: When I paint with children, I notice that they make a figure and a line, and then they paint it in in, this figure, and they remain within this edge, this boundary, with their crayon. And then I say to them: “Why are you stopping there? Paint over it!” – “What? Why paint over it?” – “Well, because that gives this painting tension and life.” That’s what I mean by changing positions. Going over the limit, seeing what happens: can we also do it that way? That’s what I mean by ‘Changing Views.’
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – August
Reinhold Ponesch on his attitude towards life.
I would sum up my attitude towards life by saying that the only thing which really counts for me is being human. The question is though, how do I achieve that? It can, of course, happen in many ways. Some people say: "I would like to have all the good material things there are in life", and spend their lives chasing after something they may never achieve. My view is: what does me good? What can I do that is good for me? What suits my lifestyle? I think that people – including me in just the same way – spend a long time searching for this. We are searching all our lives – and I have been doing this in particular. However, I am creative while I search. The searching process to me means something where I can design things, where I can explore and do not have to decide in terms of, "OK, I’m now this person or I’m that person", but where something new emerges.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – September
Reinhold Ponesch about the viewer
The viewer naturally plays a role in my works. However, in this I distinguish between the process of creation and the point at which the pictures are actually hanging somewhere. The viewer plays a very small role in the creation process, as virtually no one gets to see my pictures as they are being created. This means I get no feedback at this stage – I just rely on my own judgment entirely. I also very often work with a camera – that is to say, I take a photograph of the picture in the process of creating it, because the compositions that can be seen through a camera can be totally different from those seen with the human eye. This then provides me with indirect feedback as I continue with my work. Once the picture has then been completed, is being exhibited or people view it, then the viewer becomes very, very important for me – which means listening to what viewers have to say about the picture and what they see in it. What they see differs from person to person of course, and that is what my style is aimed at producing: being wide open in terms of affording the viewers various ways of interpreting what they feel when they look at the Picture.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – October
Reinhold Ponesch on his project for METAstadt
The first time I viewed METAstadt I discovered an enormous and stunningly beautiful wall thirteen meters long and four meters high, and this is how the idea of painting this long picture came about. In the front garden of this building I then came across Rodin’s sculpture "The Thinker" – and I thought about how this could be a possible motif for this large painting. The idea had been planted and I then began to make sketches and started working on the canvas with my graphite pencil straight away as I do not want to sketch or plan too much in advance. This is because when I plan too far ahead, I find my work becomes stiff. This is how I integrated this sculpture "The Thinker" into this picture by spreading seven figures over a length of eleven meters. I have tried to ground a bit where the figures are in order to emphasize the contrast and luminous colors respectively somewhat and then to intensify these figures. The next consideration then involved the positions of these figures in relation to one another and this also involves a lot of intuitive working in the process. It means having constantly to reconsider how these figures can best be introduced into the composition. However, this really does involve using your judgment. Of course, I always have the techniques for achieving this in my mind’s eye, but I often want to separate myself from these technical ideas, as intuition actually summons up more beautiful results than merely relying on technique.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – November
Reinhold Ponesch on his project 'We are Family'
The "We are Family" project involves exhibiting art in public places. It is a picture with very many faces and is meant to represent a family. I have created a design here for a passageway in Vienna. This picture is printed on glass plates and the whole passageway is supposed to become lighter. The aim is to exhibit art in public places but also to create a space for living together. It also includes two benches which have a very special finish simply to create an area within an urban space where there is a very great deal of movement. The subway is close and people are continuously on the move, and this is intended to be a space where people can simply relax a little and also take in this "We are Family" message – that is to say, this sense of being a member of this community. This is not an easy task to accomplish, but I hope that this project succeeds in achieving this.
Kapsch Art Calendar 2013 – December
Reinhold Ponesch about Christmas
What Christmas means to me: family, relaxing, taking time out – the times leading up to Christmas are usually very hectic ones – not for buying presents, but rather for contemplating art and painting. I celebrate Christmas among those I love, the members of my family. What is also very important to me, however, is simply being able to read a book, which I never manage to do during the year, and also having time for myself. It is therefore a very, very quiet time and one which I enjoy very, very much.