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Dr. Uli Bohnen: "Between the Figurative and the Fragmentary" (ENGLISH), 1989

Between the Figurative and the Fragmentary

about the works of Franz Schwarzinger

Franz Schwarzinger combines an irrational eagerness fort „production“ with analysis based on knowledge. Synthesis is however not his aim but confrontation; the contradiction that is socially and historically imposed on the pair ratio - irratio is made visible but not dissolved or even levelled. As far as that is concerned, Schwarzinger’s art is realistic in a metaphorical manner.

In regard to understanding and interpreting his images there are contrasts among the identifiable - for example heads, animals, plants, pillars, spirals, etc. - and seemingly cryptic patterns that on the one hand refer to the subjective and on the other hand to the historically objective.

If such elements as asserted above take metaphorical positions, they radiate nonetheless something fragmentary. This is not meant in the sense that each metaphor is a brevity. For instance the heads used in many of Schwarzinger’s works is a form of anthropomorphism. However, their isolation from human bodies (or their continuations into the bodies of animals) is not to be understood as a symbolisation of the spiritual but as a liberation of the body.

As a result, there have been „wounds“ and the parts separated by force are now put in a new though generally not bloody order that points out in a painful manner the fragmentary that was imposed. On the other’ hand, it is due in particular to the discrepancy of the images that visual humour appears regularly. This is someone who has not only learnt his Picasso and Bacon lessons, but someone who can very well appreciate picabia and is capable of balancing the aesthetics of the beautiful and the ugly alike. And how much (and in what manner) the spectrum that extends from absurdity to cynicism has to do with laughter had been explored not by chance, as far as psychology is concerned, around a lifetime ago in Vienna.

It was a Viennese who, being an organiser of exhibitions, confronted us only a few years ago with his by no means private interest in the fantastic by organising a big exhibition on mannerism. For latest since Franz Xaver Messerschmidt there has been a historical tradition of art that has got the special tendency for the abnormal without being irrational.

Even the usage of ornamental elements in Schwarzinger’s works gives an opportunity of showing the attraction behind Vienna’s local traditions as being irresistible if it were not for two main reasons to widen the horizon from the regional to the international: Firstly exotic sculpture such as the works of children and mental patients have as yet only been curiosities and are now a symbol of Modernism.

Secondly, the fundamental crisis, that we face in the shape of personal, social and environmental problems which Modernism not only reacted upon but also evoked, has become more pressing and has in the meantime reached parts of the earth that were considered exotic not too long ago.

To realize this, one does not require a television; one requires open eyes. This is my advice to the contemplator of the works of Franz Schwarzinger.

Dr. Uli Bohnen

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