The country of bugs
Gernot Fischer-Kondratovitch became well known for his series ‘1001 Skifahrer’ (‘1001 skiers’) almost 20 years ago. They are still part of his art today, always dressed in rather old-fashioned gear. But the universe of the artist has grown, and if one may say so, moved nearer to the ground.
GFK takes us to the country of bugs, to ‘Terra Coleoptera’. Lone- and twosome small humans are walking on enormous Coleoptera wings, a giant beetle and a little man are moving in a simple boat on still water that reaches out to the cloudy horizon.
The series ‘Kosmopoliten’ (‘Cosmopolitans’), drawings in A4 format, is related to ‘Terra Coleoptera’ and to the series ‘Gott ist ein Imker’ (‘God is a beekeeper’). Tiny humans are walking on exotic patterns, like the coat of the leopard. ‘Walking on exotic ground’ –for GFK this means walking the planet, roaming nature. Wandering on leopard fur adumbrates something unpredictable, perhaps dangerous.
Small-scale patterns turn into endless deserts where the characters embark on their search, like crossing a butterfly wing by bicycle. The loneliness of men becomes clear and the theme of self-observation is always present.
In the series ‘God is a beekeeper’ the smallness of men is expressed again –as well as the behaviour of our species to colonize in ‘swarms’ and the tendency to subordinate to leaders. GFK painted bee-small figures, standing lost on huge plants. Will nature finally grow over our heads?
At the same time the artist points out, that earth would have some serious problems without bees. Without men – well, not only bees and other insects would have a much more relaxed life.
Apart from nature also the lettering Coca-Cola®, symbolizing globalization, is walked on by tiny human figures. The lost and lonely human searching for meaning in his self-created commercial world.
Cars, which are typical for the classic ‘American Dream’, fall from heaven into paradise palms – titled ‘Sexy Weekend in Paradise’. In ‘Coca-Cola Dream’ small-scale nature and global madness meet head-on: a beetle walking on a billboard for the brown effervescent beverage.
The country of bugs can soon be visited in animation, too, the film ‘Terra Coleoptera’ is in preparation for 2017.
The installation ‚Paradies Europa‘ (‘Paradise Europe’) was shown at the Künstlerhaus Klagenfurt in 2015. GFK used 3D-characters representing himself, as well as conserved beetles, butterflies and plants. He created a symbolic Europe, an isolated, floating island in water containers. These installations are reminiscent of historic raree shows and the cabinets of wonder from the Renaissance, where relicts from nature and artefacts were displayed side by side.
GFK transformed old books into objects of art, the title of this series is ‚Digital Safari‘. The pages of lexica and reference books are glued together, so that the books turn into blocks of information – the content can only be guessed now, as the books are no longer readable. The front covers are designed with collage abrasions and the picture becomes the new title: again we encounter bugs, butterflies, tigers and the legendary ski jumpers that fly over New York and Rome; the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, is threatened by an alligator.
In the related series ‘Digital Adventures’ GFK again operates with the technique of collage abrasion. The scenes of the silver-grey, small format pictures are populated by well-known protagonists, such as ski jumpers, but also tigers, who have already strolled through visionary mountainous landscapes and carpet paintings of recent years. GFK uses the collages’ motifs also as templates for paintings. The book objects have a mounting suspension. So the books are transformed in more than one way: by sticking together the pages they are compressed and sealed; they get a new, purely pictorial title, and finally they are hung onto the wall as a bulky picture. With these work GFK moves in the tradition of the objet trouvé.
Works (I, II, III) from the series ‘Und Gott sprach’ (‘And God said’) are featuring fine and tiny lines of writing that, over the years, became another trademark of GFK. On the back cover of this publication we find a prepared butterfly (original size 10 x 10 cm), on whose wings GFK wrote the "Coca" of the lettering Coca-Cola® with a gold pen and a lot of patience and sensitiveness. As the artist leaves, with great sensitivity, a mark of modern commercial humanity on a fragile dead creature of nature, the people on this planet leave their traces – with far less sensitivity – on the still living planet Earth.
Within the last 20 years the artist has created, on a solid foundation, a permanently expanding universe of art. It is decked out with carpets and books, overlooked by never landing ski jumpers, roamed by powerful tigers and scuttled by mysterious beetles. And we are right in the middle of ‘Terra Coleoptera’.
To quote: Hafner, Karin, The country of bugs, in: Gernot Fischer-Kondratovitch, TERRA COLEOPTERA, Wien-Villach 2016, www.sternart.at/projects/texts/
Milan Hrnjazović – Fräulein?
Milan Hrnjazović is mainly a painter. Not long ago he decided to exhibit also his graphic works, which often function as studies for his paintings and thus illustrate the process of work. The artist thinks a lot about social problems and conflicts and occasionally he writes essays on these topics. Those texts also serve as an inspiration for his pictures.
The center of Milan Hrnjazović’s work is female. „Fräulein“, Mother and Femme Fatale expose themselves in front of the beholder and show their vulnerability, love, despair, ecstasy, tenderness and cruelty. These nudes are by no means an unconditional celebration of femininity and female sexuality. The artist pierces the surfaces of society and the contemporary ways of relationships. He visualizes the drama and cruelty behind shiny illusions. This view behind the pretty scene resulted in the concept and name of the exhibition: „Fräulein? “
In the North of Serbia „Fräulein“means „Frajla“and its meaning differs from the German one. Although „Frajla“is also a young and unmarried woman, the term stresses her strong interest in social success and fashion. She keeps her relationships and the motifs for them a secret.
In the photo-series Femme Fatale and The Big Game the female body is shown as an instrument for the achievement of social aims. Milan Hrnjazović interprets the Femme Fatale as the „illusion of fulfillment of a lifetime dream“. In the second photo-series, The Big Game, this theme is outlined even more drastically: fashionable thin women feast on human flesh while they sit in midst of a decadent interior. With this radical images the artist expresses the society-immanent violence, where human lives are destroyed just because of the very own personal gains.
The paintings on Mother and Child show on the one hand the initial one-to-one: female body parts, eggs and embryos formally melt into each other. On the other hand the artist relates to the stereotype of motherhood in Christian tradition – to Madonna and Christ. Their painful separation is inevitable.
The paintings depicting relationships between men and women show the most turbulent formal language. The series Together, yet apart is inhibited by male and female anatomies, whirling into nude- and flesh-coloured swirls, symbolizing the physical connection. The faces of this men and women contrast this union and tell about the loneliness of many people in modern relationships.
Milan Hrnjazović displays today’s relationships in a critical way – but without moralizing and by speaking through an aesthetically very fascinating and profound figurative language.
Citation: Hafner, Karin, Milan Hrnjazović – Fräulein?, Text for the exhibition at Kunst.Raum.Villach in Oct.-Nov. 2013,