ATLAS I, Acrylic, Oil, Tempera & Ink on Linen, 200 x 140 cm, 2017
SCORPIO, Acrylic, Oil, Mordant & Ink on Linen, 160 x 160 cm, 2017
BOTO, Acrylic, Oil, Limestone & Ink on Linen, 230x120cm, 2017
ATLAS, Acrylic, Oil, Tempera & Ink on Linen, 210x140 cm, 2017
SNAKE WOMAN, Acrylic, Mordant, Tempera & Ink on Linen, 200x130 cm, 2017
GIRL AND OX, Acrylic, Oil, Limestone & Ink on Linen, 190 x 160 cm, 2017
GIOCONDA, Acrylic, Mordant & Ink on Linen, 2017
OHNE TITEL, Acrylic, Mordant & Ink on Linen, 140 x 120 cm, 2017
PAINTING AS AUTOGAMOUS PLAY
EROSION AND SELF-CIRCUMVENTION VERSUS ILLUSTRATION
Ballpoint pens stain unprimed canvases. The act of drawing becomes a physical testing of boundaries, becomes painting – painting done on unstretched canvases, on the studio floor, on fabric tacked to a wall. This is how Viennese artist Bernhard Rappold works; his painting are large-scale, ostensibly figurative, yet simultaneously abstract.
By the time they are completed, the paintings appear to have been subjected to considerable wear. A coarse nature is crucial to their production: As much color as is initially applied, perhaps even more, is subsequently removed, scraped off, and washed away in the process of their creation. Were one to consider this process alone, one could not but assume that the sum total would be negative. For the artist, the painting surface is an alluvial plain.
To concede to oneself the importance of the experiential and the emotional is among the keenest approaches to painting. In terms of content, the painterly process is determined by at least two nearly contradictory impulses:
The first of these is the amalgam of more than three thousand years of art history and present-day artistic codes.
The second, which forms the basis of the uniqueness of the work, is the material that comes from the artist himself: his unacknowledged or avowed desires, his aspirations, his frustrations, his love and his being in love, his quirks and aversions. In short, it is his personal, verdant garden of the imagination that flows into the painting.
Bernhard Rappold has the courage and the insight to understand that, where the motif is concerned, a painting really always begins with the second, the extremely personal impulse. The feeling of embarrassment, the natural and spontaneous reaction to the spongy mass of one's own projections, must be overcome and eliminated. For in the process of painting, these polyphonic associations, desires, and feelings form the material of a work, the particular strength and independence of which arises precisely through the overcoming of resistance.
The tension between the two determinants – objective historicity and contemporary codes on the one hand, the ever-subjective emotional, trivial, and imaginary on the other – creates space for a dynamic freedom.
It is the eternal argument of Byzantine Iconoclasm: That any idea or representation of the Most High must perforce be "contaminated" by the personality of the artist who creates it.
Bernhard Rappold has instinctively internalized this conflict.
This explains the striking effect of his paintings: The sense that something is wrong, and yet that the paintings are exactly as they should be. Bernhard Rappold shares this form of present beauty with Gustav Klimt and Mario Merz, where an overly exuberant ornamentation constantly teeters on the edge. Where a void exists that is not homogenized and harmonized. Instead, it is essentially unfolded by means of the pictorial ornamentation and the usually white base, and is welcomed as a fundamental condition for the essence of the painting.
Michal Vesley and Larissa Wallner