The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
18 Dec. 2014 – 20 Feb. 2015
"During the last thirty years, Peter Kogler was very visible on the international art scene. He has been recognized as one of the most prominent representatives of middle-generation Austrian artists. Like his contemporaries – let us mention only the best known ones, Franz Graf, Heimo Zobernig, and Erwin Wurm, authors who commenced their work in the eighties – Kogler began his artistic journey by adopting the tradition of conceptual and media art, and by developing his explorations at the intersection of different disciplines and media – performance, video, film, painting, computer art, sculpture, and architecture. Kogler has been interested in new, innovative art practices, not only in the field of visual, but also in performative arts, sound and music. He continued his work by shifting the boundaries of artistic expression and developed a very impressive, emotionally and artistically convincing world, whose layered meanings open communication paths to the widest public. After several years of research at the beginning of his artistic career, in painting, performance, and experimental film, since 1984 Kogler has used computer technology. Heralding the future development of computer-generated art already in the 60s, in the spirit of that positivist-optimistic time, Michael Noll wrote: “The computer is an active medium the artist can interact with at a new level, liberated from many physical limitations of all former media. The artistic possibilities of this kind of creative medium as the artist’s helping device are truly exciting and challenging.” The creative possibilities of the computer as a medium that abolished physical limitations two decades later brought decisive impetuses also into Peter Kogler’s work and enabled him to create an extremely interesting and impressive oeuvre. In his numerous multimedia projects, executed in different media, the virtual has become the realm of the real and the boundaries of architecture acquired a new dimension.
In this year's exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, we present Peter Kogler with a series of his recent works. Our intention is to provide the public with an insight into his diversified interests in terms of content and media of expression. The exhibition begins with a monumental curtain, an object we frequently find in Kogler's work, with a printed abstract motif of red entangled lines. The curtain functions as a large painting in elongated format that cannot be encompassed at a glance, which encourages us to closer observation and movement. At the same time this curtain is both a barrier and a psychological introduction into an area with video-screening. Entering this space, we come into an entirely different ambience. Moving images are screened to all four sides of the hall, and imperceptible changes in them generate in the viewer a feeling of undefined movement and insecurity. The author of sound as a constituent part of the installation is Franz Pomassl, Austrian artist, theorist, and curator, Peter Kogler’s collaborator for several years. Both the sound and the moving images create a filmic atmosphere, so that we become aware of all the influences and historical reminiscences like the ones from Fritz Lang films or the legendary Blade Runner, which Kogler often mentions in his interviews.
In its general appearance, the next hall reminds us in its overall impression of the atmosphere and works recorded in Kogler’s Los Angeles studio, at the time when they were marked by strong influence of American art, especially minimalism and pop-art. In accordance with Abraham Moles’s information science theory of perception, to understand means to differentiate between forms, i.e. to reduce the complex to simple ones, referring to already known repertoires. Kogler does exactly that – with computer support he develops very precise visual structures that function as super-signs in two- and three-dimensional form. Along with the already mentioned ants, he generates light bulbs, white rats, human brains, and tubes. Although his visual scope is adopted from the everyday objects’ repertoire, thus achieving clarity and intelligibility, we can by no means say that it is foreseeable. We can, however, say that it is very up-to-date and that it best reflects the spirit of today’s globalized society, interconnected by technologies and social networks.
The expansion of images-drawings with Kogler’s tube motif, black print on white ground, takes place in the last exhibition room. Kogler covered the floor, walls, and the ceiling with wallpaper, enlarging and multiplying his well-known motif in order to transform an ordinary “box-shaped” space into one that in the observer generates the impression of being lost in time and space, as if we were lost in a virtual maze."
Snježana Pintarić, curator of the exhibition
Peter Kogler, born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1959, lives and works in Vienna. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1993 until 2005, and has been working as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich since 2008. His work has been presented at international art shows such as the Venice Biennale (1986, 1993, 1995), documenta IX (1992) and documenta X (1997) in Kassel.
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