We are very pleased to show the first solo exhibition of Clemens Krauss in our Viennese gallery. Under the title "Unknowing" new oil paintings, video works and sculptures are shown. Contrary to common practice, the exhibition is not yet complete at the opening. The artist creates the majority of the work in interaction with the visitors only during the exhibition period.
At the opening of the exhibition, only seven works are be shown: four oil paintings, two videos and a latex sculpture from the series "Skin". More works are not yet available. The artist wants and will them create only during the ongoing exhibition period.
To this end, he gets into an experiment which outcome is open. For this reason, he uses his second profession, to which he always paid attention: Krauss has not only studied art at the Berlin University of the Arts and has made a name for himself in the art scene with over 50 group and individual exhibitions in prestigious institutions all over the world, he has also graduated as a psychoanalyst.
For five weeks, from Thursday to Sunday, he now receives visitors for therapy sessions in a separate gallery room. Anyone who wants can register. Everything remains secret, everything happens anonymously. The impressions and information, the dreams and traumas, which Krauss possibly gathers during the sessions, are then integrated in new works. He uses them as inspiration, interprets them, visualizes them, metabolizes them, transforms them, translates them into images, parables, symbols - into a "visual material of the inner and the soul".
It is not a replica of the narrative that he holds, but an idea and promise of the possibly non-narrative. Thus every week, four to ve new works are created. Every Tuesday they are added to the exhibition. Perhaps on the big white wall, on which at the beginning only a single small oil painting is hanging. Perhaps in some other place that is more convenient. The unknowing is the basis and the paradigm of the exhibition, which leaves open every decision in the creative process.
However, the entire exhibition space becomes a large display over time for sure, lling with more and more elements towards the end. But will this display form a coherent whole? Does it claim to be an all-embracing work of art? Will the individual elements harmonize or delimit each other deliberately? Will the process in which the artist gets involved, change his style and motifs - outcome open.
But the painting style of Clemens Krauss is a determining factor in his art. It made him acquainted, gave him a distinctive handwriting. On mostly bright, monochromatic backgrounds, Krauss creates images of bodies that are not only representing them, but are bodies themselves: in coarse, pastose streaks, thickly applied oil colors accentuate the canvas and form sculptural reliefs of human figures that continue three-dimensionally into the space.
On closer view, they reach a level of abstraction that points to the artistic techniques of classical modernism: The mimetic becomes an abstract. The mostly male gures, which are usually viewed from above in performative and randomly acting constellations, remain anonymous and nevertheless develop an almost scary spatial presence. This is expressed not only by the massive, pastose, almost sculptural paint application, but also by the intense smell of oil color, which the viewer cannot escape. For Krauss, the material used and its use is a dychotomy of color and painting. Based on chronographical concepts of the ancient Greeks, in which "chronos" (time) and "kairos" (the right moment) are necessary and complementary, painting and color are also intertwined: On the one hand in the visual stimulation of the retina by the color, on the other in relation to the material and structural, organic quality of the painted body – thus his paintings become the "material correspondence of the human body".
Clemens Krauss reflects on the positions and programs of the human body and the human psyche, both in relation to individual location in space as well as in social, political and cultural contexts. In doing so, he has always referred not only to the representing investigative, narrative medium of painting, but also to other spheres of knowledge about the human being.
With the selected methodology for the exhibition "Unknowing", with the immediate in ow of medical- scientifically gained knowledge about single individuals and their psyche within the therapy sessions Krauss tries to go another new step. He not only deals with these mechanisms in a theoretical and re ective way, but also creates a direct, intuitive reference to the artistic act. The small latex sculpture entitled "Artist's Hand", which is shown from the beginning of the exhibition, is a plastic replica of Krauss's own hand, but in a skinned form.
The two video works, shown from the rst day of the exhibition, are referring as well to the role of the individual in the social, cultural and societal context. Here, too, Krauss reverts to the question which he already poses regarding the method of realization of the exhibition: What, actually, do we still know of each other? What can be really learned from others? How can it be held, materialized, classified? Where are there certainties and where do they disappear?
In the two video works "Incident" and "Occurrence", Krauss tackles this question head on: He uses old lm and video material from his own childhood. It shows him when he is 12 to 14 years old. It makes us look into a section of life in which the greatest possible certainties develop in order to evaporate again in the course of life through impressions which are often only claims. This makes the viewer sublimely clear because Krauss supports the video material with disturbing, partial oppressive stalls and brings it into a psychotic-like cut sequence.
In this way, he strikes the bow to what his paintings are, what he aims at his therapy-art-work-interaction and what the art historian Franz-Anton Schuster described as such: "Krauss is always about the complex effects
of social, cultural, religious and political connections to the collective and individual body. He asks questions about the individual's position in a dramatically changing society, about the forms of social interaction between self-contained and socialized bodies. His main concern is the importance and relevance of gestures, of small things "from the seemingly insigni cant - in both the literal and the metaphorical sense. Again and again he explores what constitutes human identity in the end, especially when its shell will be removed. "
The exhibition title "Unknowing" clearly confirms Schuster's thesis. Whether consciously or unconsciously, "Unknowing" can not only be read as an allusion to the fact that neither the artist nor the visitor has the slightest idea at the beginning of the exhibition as to how it will end up (as it is completed on the last day only, to be dismantled thereafter immediately). "Unknowing" also includes the theoretical superstructure, which Krauss addresses in all his works - not least because of the mechanism of their occurrence. Actually he is concerned with a phenomenon which is increasingly encompassing society and politics: the "belief to know" that is posed over the actual "knowledge" and thus the "unknowing" as the categorical imperative and determining factor of all doing, action and omission.
Clemens Krauss was born in Graz in 1981 and lives in Berlin since 2003. Although he is only 36 years old, he can already look back on a remarkable number of institutional solo and group exhibitions, including Sydney, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Seoul, Montreal, Johannesburg, London, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin and Istanbul.