Mara Mattuschka

Wordless, 2006, oil on canvas, 90x120

prima vera icona (painting)

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

17 January - 22 March 2008

Mara Mattuschka, born in Bulgaria and resident in Vienna, made her reputation with both films and performances. At the beginning of 2008 she will present her latest oil paintings in Vienna's Knoll Gallery.

Mara Mattuschka: "My paintings are not intended to be self-portraits. I am just the occasion for them. I make use of myself as a model, but it could readily be any body, any face. It could be anybody. I appear as a representative for humanity. I represent the woman, the man, the child in this sense the pictures are performances. In the same way that an actor isn't the character played: so the person in the picture isn't Mara Mattuschka"
Striking are the angles of the views from above and below. I am short-sighted and when I studied I sat directly next to the model. The results were intimate angles.
Naturally: when one's gaze wanders from the tips of the hairs to the toes the perspective changes. This results in certain natural distortions...
Views from above and below have a specific comical optic. And they show the embryonic in people.
The most important thing in painting is light! The picture has to radiate an inner light.
There should be an illusion that the lamp is switched on!
And additionally:
I don't know if you know it Painting is psychoactive, ecstatic. I often cry and laugh when painting - I hope that at least a part of these emotions materialises on the canvas. Or that they are transformed into kinetic energy, so that the paintings begin to float of their own accord!"
(Extracts of an interview with Elisabeth Klocker, unpublished November 2007)

Although Mara Mattuschka's (born in 1959 in Sofia, lives in Vienna) work forms one whole chain of thought (in one, whether it be a film, a performance or a painting the "incentive for the next piece" is, according to her, present), smaller units are identifiable. These are concentrations of content, which focus certain moods, feelings and perceptions.
For the first time the artist will present some medium sized and large oil paintings that were created last year under the title "prima vera icona". The title is a combination of "primavera" (spring) and "vera icon" (the true picture of Christ). It is at once ironic and serious, as are the figures of the women represented, which can be traced back to a likeness of the artist..
The majority of the naked bodies are viewed from extreme close quarters, making them look bent and deformed or writhing. "I play a role", says Mara Mattuschka. She appears sometimes with an ostrich feather, in underwear, with chic shoes and Indian feathers in her hair, sometimes dancing ecstatically between two chairs, and sometimes wearing a man's suit. The objects open up realms of associations that fit into an open narrative, over and above that of the individual painting. Nevertheless it is not the presentiment of a story but rather the colour composition - the red of the objects contrasting with a fresh bright green background - that enable the individual works to form one complete narrative within the oeuvre. The twenty or thirty layers of paint imbue the oil paintings with a luminosity that renders the inner profundity of the content all the more mysterious. Mara Mattuschka's work of high quality is in the tradition of the best figurative painterly tradition such as that of Maria Lassnig, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, to name but a few, which she sets forth with a formulation appropriate to today.
(Dr. Andrea Domesle, December 2007)

Further information

Mara Mattuschka