With the "Minds & Hearts" exhibition, Galerie Wolfgang Jahn in Landshut presents new works by Hubert Scheibl, who received his artistic training with Max Weiler and Arnulf Rainer in Vienna and has been considered an important representative of the Austrian group of "Neue Wilden" artists since the 1980s. With a representative selection of paintings, works on paper and sculptures from his current creative phase, the exhibition documents Scheibl's artistic approach in his individual use of different media.
Hubert Scheibl's artistic work has always been committed to self-referential abstraction. As the exhibition title "Minds & Hearts" suggests, Scheibl pursues in his art the approach of an intuitive and individual articulation of the unconscious, which, in parallel to our world focused so heavily on things and the mind, cannot be grasped in concrete images and yet significantly influences everything as a vague superpower in the supposedly hidden. And yet it seems to be nature again and again that serves him as a model, or rather a guiding principle. This supposed paradox literally dissolves into pleasure when we engage with his works intuitively. Scheibl does not present nature and so the power of life to us in its obvious, familiar form and appearance. On the contrary, Scheibl's works are painterly, graphic and sculptural interpretations of its very essence, reducing it to its essentials. Scheibl internalises and manifests the driving forces of nature in his works, without necessarily quoting directly, but in indirect speech. It becomes clear how similar art and nature are in their creative processes. After all, both are concerned with the emergence of forms, the creation of structures and the production of colour variations. Phenomena such as unfolding, expanding, filling space, resisting and self-assertion. About cyclical renewal, displacement, replacement and supplementation. Often tested according to a proven plan, which nevertheless allows for "spontaneous mutations" in the sense of a calculated coincidence. This also becomes clear in his choice of picture titles, for example in the naming of his large-scale series "Plants & Murders", whose name suggests the fight for survival in the sense of Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest" theory as a possible interpretation.
Scheibl’s in every respect multi-layered paintings show a "before" and "behind", a "meanwhile" and "after" in overlapping, interfusing layers of colour, which capture the perceptibly powerful and tireless movement processes of image generation in the static medium of the picture carrier like layers of sediment. Like the never-resting cycle of nature, his paintings are permanent upheavals condensed into coherent final compositions, aiming at the renewal and change of intermediate states. A shifting of masses, a struggle for the assertion of structure and colour, in the course of which seemingly hidden things become visible again in their former existence.
With the kinetic energy they express, it is not uncommon for Scheibl's impulsive brushstrokes to evoke waves and flowing movements or tumbling cascades. Like an ocean’s moving surf, which in the composition of the picture becomes an aesthetically coherent snapshot and suggests a standstill that nevertheless impressively expresses the roaring force. We then feel reminded again of the hardened, abruptly weathered ice layers of a glacier that seems to conserve time and movement in the state of the "now" and whose gaping incisions seem like the worn scars of events long ago. When looking at his paintings, the chains of associations range from cooling down lava flows, which still carry the constant fluid movement in their solidification, to green tree structures whipped by the storm, whose restless to and fro and up and down cannot be captured into a single image for our eyes. In fact, the details take refuge in abstraction here, like in a photographic long exposure with its motion blur obscuring the contours.
In the paintings and works on paper in the "Ones" series, which, according to the title, places the individual and thus the unique as the sum of the whole in the plural, the centre is dominated in each case by sweeping broad brushstrokes with a changing direction of progression, which are skilfully executed in a single movement without stopping. Like ribbons of colour fluttering in the breeze or rhythmically choreographed looping movements with changing colour values, these sweeps of form as an aesthetic setting allow us to impressively comprehend the dynamics of their emergence. Comparable to freshly sprouting plants, they unfold to their full form on the support, which becomes their habitat. Isolated splashes of colour are reminiscent of the starting point of cellular structures. And not infrequently, especially with the works on paper, one has the impression that the format is like a perceived obstacle restricting them in their urge to move, like a cage that is too small and whose space has to be used to the full.
In the sheets from the "Plants & Murders" series, delicate graphite lines spread out across the surface of the paper like thin stalks or delicate root structures, spermatozoa or the mycelium of a fungus, constantly and yet tentatively, overlapping and forming links. Sporadic accumulations of colour drops, strokes and bundles suggest the growth of colourful blossoms as a symbol of beauty and at the same time purposeful determination for the continuation of life. The folded pictures in the series that give rise to symmetrically proliferating structures along the fold, not least due to chance, appear like the imaginative depiction of magnificently swelling calyxes, whose beguiling attraction is vividly conveyed. Or they are reminiscent of the appearance of a butterfly, which in the course of its metamorphosis develops from an inconspicuous caterpillar into a magnificent form.
Scheibl's sculptural work is even closer to his drawings and works on paper than to his painting. Here again we find alienated floral structures that cannot and will not deny their affinity to nature. Here, too, we encounter nothing superficially familiar, but something imaginative and mysterious, even enigmatic, which contributes to the fact that the viewer is again astonished beyond their learned and regurgitated knowledge. Scheibl's sculptures have their origins, among other things, in his fascination for the botanical illustrative and teaching models by Robert and Reinhold Brendel, which were produced at the end of the 19th century, first in Breslau and then in Berlin. Highly magnified in their appearance, they were considered representative reproductions of nature for study purposes. Through their ideal, typical, classificatory representation and the materials used for their production, such as wood, papier-mâché, fabric, oil paint, etc., these models themselves embody an abstraction of nature and reality. As an artist, Scheibl goes far beyond this in his sculptures. His very own creations are long-stemmed fantasy structures mounted on plinths, which are based on vegetal forms, but rediscover and rethink them. A creative and playful approach to the materials used is also revealed, for example when paint tube lids become holders for mirror elements. Or when Scheibl wraps his objects in precious paper acquired in Asia full of Chinese characters, sometimes also with pages from musical scores, which, beyond their aesthetic appeal, hold puzzling messages that are barely decipherable in this form, let alone complete. Turning former knowledge into the unknown, the conscious into the unconscious again.
Dr. Veit Ziegelmaier