Egon Schiele − Adrian Ghenie

From 11 October 2024

The ALBERTINA Museum is honoring Egon Schiele, one of expressionism’s most important visual artists, with a revolutionary exhibition. Based on a concept originated by Ciprian Adrian Barsan, it envisions a return of Schiele’s lost works—known only from black-and-white photographs— courtesy of Adrian Ghenie’s hauntingly emphatic artistic abilities.

Around one quarter of Schiele’s paintings remain missing to this day or are known to have been lost or destroyed, for the most part prior to the Second World War. The exact circumstances surrounding their disappearance are still a mystery. These lost images, which revolved around weighty themes such as death, sexuality, self-reflection, the search for identity, distortion, melancholy, and faith, now exist only as shadowy photographs.

The project “Egon Schiele: Shadow Paintings” takes viewers along on a metaphysical journey through dissolution and eventual reincarnation. The works referred to here as “Shadow Paintings” symbolize the dark night of the soul in which individuals find themselves confronted with their inner shadows—a process associated with concepts such as nigredo, tenebrosity, and melancholy.

Via his own deconstructive method, Adrian Ghenie lends these “Shadow Paintings” a new dimension that reaches far beyond mere form, transforming them into lively manifestations of the chromatic spectrum while also blurring the boundaries between reality and abstraction. In doing so, he strives not to follow a spiritual calling but rather to achieve a state of energetic euphoria. Ghenie creates “the impossible body” without anatomy—a reinvention of nothingness.

The emphasis in this new series of works is on the human body and on existence as such. It offers space for interpretations that range far beyond the physical, indeed diving into the transcendental. This process gives rise to deeper reflection upon the nature of perception itself and upon just how we construct and deconstruct reality. Schiele himself employed the human body as a medium via which to convey deep-reaching emotional and psychological states and pose questions as to human existence, sexuality, death, and spirituality. Ghenie assumes the challenging task of not only resurrecting these works from the shadow world but also of physically re-embodying and reviving them. The point here is to refrain from physically replicating Schiele’s own shadows and instead provide their deeper essence with a new, impossible embodiment.

Ciprian Adrian Barsan previously joined forces with the ALBERTINA Museum to realize the successful exhibition of works by Niko Pirosmani. This exhibition is likewise supported by Barsan’s Infinitart Foundation.

On view at the ALBERTINA from 11 October 2024 until 9 February 2025. 

Image Gallery – 2 Images

 

  • Annual Partner
    Bank Austria UniCredit
  • Jahrespartner
    Verbund
  • Partner
    BMW
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