This is my hope—that I always get somewhere that I can’t find otherwise. Always try to find new ways. An unknown landscape. This is a very poetic effort. I think you often go into the fog and feel your way through.
Rudolf Polanszky was born in Vienna, where he grew up in the 1960s in the wake of the Viennese Actionists, a group of artists who staged notoriously graphic and often bloody actions and performances using people and animals. In his early work, Polanszky reacted against this movement by performing his own ironic actions. In one example from the 1980s, he attached paintbrushes, sponges dipped in paint, and colored pens to his body and then filmed himself as he moved around and rolled on the floor of a paper-covered room, producing paintings. In his Sprungfedernzeichnungen (Coil Spring Drawings) (1983–85), he propelled himself around the space of his studio atop a large metal spring, wielding an elongated paintbrush in each hand and leaving behind painted traces of his uncontrolled motions. For the Schlafbilder (Sleep Pictures) (1983), he wore a jumpsuit affixed with painting and drawing implements while he slept on the floor, allowing his slumbering state to illustrate his body’s kinetic patterns.
The 1990s marked an artistic turning point for Polanszky. During this period, he began creating canvas-mounted and freestanding assemblages by combining salvaged industrial materials—such as acrylic glass, aluminum, mirrored foil, resin, silicone, and wire—into new aesthetic forms, freeing them from their original contexts and uses. His term for this process of assemblage, “ad hoc synthesis,” reveals his enduring interest in combining conscious artistic strategy with the operation of random incident to generate new meaning. Polanszky has received solo museum exhibitions across Europe, including Translineare Strukturen (Translinear Structures), a 2015 retrospective at Zeit Kunst Niederösterreich, Krems, Austria; and Eidola, an exhibition of his recent work at the Secession, Vienna, in 2018. Polanszky lives and works in Vienna.
Rudolf Polanszky: Reconstructions
Gagosian director Ealan Wingate describes his first visit to Rudolf Polansky’s studio outside Vienna and discusses the development of the artist’s practice—from his early works informed by the legacy of the Viennese Actionists to the Reconstructions, an ongoing body of assemblage-type wall works and sculptures.
Hans Ulrich Obrist visits the artist at his studio outside Vienna to discover more about the origins of his practice, his experiments in freedom, and the importance of drifting.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019
The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.
Rudolf Polanszky: Translinear Structures
KA21/Cast Your Art
Rudolf Polanszky speaks about his art in this video from KA21, produced on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition presented by Zeit Kunst Niederösterreich in 2015. Installed in a historical church in Krems, Austria, the exhibition reflected the artist’s ongoing engagement with philosophy, mathematics, and epistemology, articulated through abstract and poetic visual forms.
Still from “Rudolf Polanszky: Translinear Structures”
Rudolf Polanszky is available for online reading from July 1 through July 30 as part of Artist Spotlight: Rudolf Polanszky. Published on the occasion of his first exhibition with Gagosian, the book highlights recent paintings and sculptures by the Viennese artist dating from 2014 to 2019. To make his richly textured assemblages, Polanszky uses salvaged industrial materials such as acrylic glass, aluminum, mirrored foil, silicone, and wire, recombining them into purely aesthetic forms divorced from their original contexts. An essay by Francesco Stocchi considers the artist’s work in relation to the concept of the void, while an illuminating conversation with the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist offers an overview of Polanszky’s career.
Rudolf Polanszky (New York: Gagosian, 2020)
July 1–7, 2020
An important contributor to the artistic landscape of Vienna, Rudolf Polanszky makes cerebral multidisciplinary works that embrace chance occurrence. His fundamentally improvisational practice marries conceptual philosophies with varied modes of production, resulting in compositions that oscillate between dual identities as concrete objects and symbols of subjective perception.
Photo: Xandra M. Linsin
Rudolf Polanszky in
Discrete Austrian Secrets
November 17, 2019–March 31, 2020
Galaxy Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing, China
Discrete Austrian Secrets presents thirty-two contemporary Austrian artists exhibiting spatial interventions, sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, and sound and video art. Work by Rudolf Polanszky is included.
February 9–April 22, 2018
Rudolf Polanszky’s solo exhibition brings together sculptures and pictorial reliefs from various ensembles the artist has worked on during the last decade. Providing insight into his world of ideas, these works exemplify the artist’s nonlinear, improvised process of piecing together found materials and accidental forms, which he describes as “ad hoc synthesis.”
Installation view, Rudolf Polanszky: Eidola, Secession, Vienna, February 9–April 22, 2018. Artwork © Rudolf Polanszky. Photo: Peter Mochi
December 15, 2015–February 20, 2016
Museo Madre, Naples, Italy
This exhibition presents more than twenty works on canvas and sculptures produced by Rudolf Polanszky between the 1990s and 2015 that explore the relationship between abstraction and the space of human action. Since the 1990s Polanszky has created canvas-mounted and freestanding assemblages by combining salvaged industrial materials into new aesthetic forms, freeing them from their original contexts and uses. The works in this exhibition reflect his enduring interest in creating structure and form from repurposed materials.
Rudolf Polanszky, Rohrschach Transformations, 2010 © Rudolf Polanszky. Photo: Stefan Lux
May 30–October 18, 2015
Zeit Kunst Niederösterreich, Dominikanerkirche Krems, Austria
Installed in the historic Dominikanerkirche Krems, this retrospective exhibition, whose title translates to “Translinear Structures,” surveys Rudolf Polanszky’s body of work, from his conceptual film and photography documenting actions in the 1980s to his more recent paintings and sculpture, which reflect the artist’s ongoing engagement with philosophy, mathematics, and epistemology, articulated through abstract and poetic visual forms.
Installation view, Rudolf Polanszky: Translineare Strukturen, Zeit Kunst Niederösterreich, Dominikanerkirche Krems, Austria, May 30–October 18, 2015. Artwork © Rudolf Polanszky. Photo: Christoph Fuchs