When we say that something makes sense—that is interesting. But I do not want to make sense, because this sense is a definition made by somebody else.
Gagosian is pleased to present paintings and sculptures by Rudolf Polanszky dating from 2014 to 2019. This exhibition inaugurates his representation by the gallery.
An important contributor to the artistic landscape of Vienna, 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.
Growing up in the immediate wake of the Viennese Actionist movement of the 1960s, Polanszky began his practice making satirical films, paintings, and performance art pieces that mischievously countered the Actionists’ graphic focus on living bodies in their own notorious performance works. To create his Sprungfedernzeichnungen (Coil Spring Drawings, 1983–85), for example, he bounced around a paper-covered room atop a large metal spring, wielding an elongated paintbrush in each hand, leaving behind painted and graphic traces of his uncontrolled motions.
In the early 1990s, Polanszky moved away from the legacy of Actionism, turning his attention instead to the formal potential of sculpture and mixed-media painting with the series Reconstructions (1991–). To make these shimmering, richly textured works, he uses salvaged industrial materials such as acrylic glass, aluminum, mirrored foil, resin, silicone, and wire, recombining them into purely aesthetic forms divorced from their original contexts. Polanszky often leaves his raw materials outside, letting the elements help determine the work’s final form. Taking improvisational cues from his father’s occupation as a jazz musician, Polanszky’s term for this process, “ad hoc synthesis,” reveals an enduring interest in combining conscious artistic strategy with the operation of random incident to generate new meaning.
The Reconstructions in this exhibition demonstrate the range of visual effects that Polanszky has been able to achieve through this idiosyncratic technique. In some works, he covers raw canvas with wrinkled aluminum, adding pools of resin and panes of transparent debris to produce a milky sheen that suggests both the impenetrable surface of machinery and the opalescent interior of a seashell. Polanszky also incorporates flecks of pigment and painted strips of linen into many of his compositions, further enlivening their intricate surfaces with accents of color.
This exhibition also marks the debut of the Dark Mirrors and Bright Mirrors—two paired subseries of the Reconstructions. In these works, mounted on wood, Polanszky juxtaposes smooth, undulating metallic forms with sharply angled shards of silver and purple mirrored foil, allowing the highly textural paintings to reflect light in unpredictable glimmers and flashes.
A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Francesco Stocchi and a conversation with the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist will accompany the exhibition.
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 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