16 x 12



21. April - 27. May 2022


Habsburgergasse 5, 1010 Vienna


Michael Ornauer's paintings tell nothing. They are completely focused on themselves, on colour, gesture, painting material and image carrier. Totally pure. And infinitely rich in the exploitation of painterly processes. Everything arises in this process, develops from a found treatment of the paint on the raw painting ground. This can range from a monochrome color, from oil paint applied thinly, from layers that are placed on top of each other and then partially exposed again, to thick junk of paint piled up almost mountain-like, placed close together, which are extremely intense in their materiality and color intensity. The spectrum of this color as an optical phenomenon as well as a painting exploring material is huge. Lightness and heaviness, wildness and softness, color shock and calm monochrome, if the viewers of this painting take their time and look carefully, they can discover the range in which the artist uses the painterly means, plays with them and experiments with them. The exhibition 16x12, a title that may at first be a bit perplexing, especially if you haven't seen the works yet, shows a current series by Ornauer. If the artist has previously preferred a variability of formats that corresponds to his working method, in this series he concentrates on a single format. An unusual one at that. While the formats of paintings have become ever larger in recent decades, in accordance with the idea of drawing attention in a time of floods of images, Ornauer is taking the opposite path here. 16 x 12 cm, that is the format of all paintings. A courageous decision, an unusual path. But also an exciting one, as a visit to the artist's studio shows. There he placed many of these miniature works on a table and also hung some on the wall. My first quick impression was almost a little overwhelmed, this painting seemed so loud at first glance, in its density of presentation. But slowly the eye came closer to this so concentrated and dense painting, rediscovered those expressions of color that determine his work, but also similar color intensities, similar material densities. We are hardly used to taking time for the little ones. It is extremely interesting to study these miniatures. This exploration of the painterly possibilities, this desire to experiment with color, to apply it in very different ways, the working method that we already know from this artist, it can be rediscovered here in concentrated form. Ornauer takes a conceptual approach to this extraordinary series. A small series of works is created during the day, which represents variations of a found painterly expression. For example, several works are created in one day that are painted monochrome in black. On another day, the fat junks of paint laid close together. They may seem particularly idiosyncratic, because this powerful concentration of color is so thick on this small format, meaning that heaviness and miniature enter into an exciting combination here. It is precisely in these small series that one sees what is different in the similarity, and perhaps one gets a closer look at the subtleties of this painting. It is palpable that the artist has a great desire to concentrate on the same, small format in order to endlessly rework his basic questions about painting, his work with its basic conditions, and his exploration of the possibilities. You can feel this desire.

Andreas Hoffer