In Austria in the 1950s, Arnulf Rainer developed a particularly obsessive way of drawing and painting. In 1951, with the artist Maria Lassnig, he visited André Breton in Paris. His work, initially influenced by surrealism, evolved towards a sort of informal, radical art. In the early 1960s, he worked on his own image, furiously modifying photo booth shots, photographic self-portraits where he adopted deliberately grotesque poses. He thus become one of the main protagonists of Viennese Actionism. Then overpainting (Übermalung) become his trademark: his works are made from successive layers of paint that cover an initial image, sometimes to such an extent that it is no longer visible. This is not just a simple game, but a sort of intense ritual mobilising all the painter's energy.
The Ex nihilo exhibition gathers the most recent paintings from the artist, today aged 92. A series of prints is also displayed at the bookstore. The catalogue is introduced by Corinna Thierolf, former director of the Pinakothekder Moderne in Munich.
Arnulf Rainer was born in 1929 in Baden (Austria) where a museum dedicated to his work opened in 2009. He lives and works in Austria and Tenerife.
Press release courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris.