CALF’S HEAD, FROG THIGH STEW, HERMAPHRODITE SORREL…the idea of the overall work of art of artist Paul Renner can be interpreted as excitingly different now and again; his ‘Theatrum Anatomicum’ and ‘Verbotene Wirtshaus’ made an international splash. The artist from the Vorarlberg region is at home in Bregenzerwald and near Naples as well as in the whole world, and interprets travelling as a seminal contribution to his art. ‘Cooking, painting, writing musical scores, creating sculptures isn’t all it boils down to; travelling is just as important, for it allows you to gather impressions to develop your creativity.’ He’s travelled around 20 mystical locations in Europe with his ‘The Hell Fire Touring Club’ and enjoyed experiences which scared him, possessed him, and allowed him to overcome his limitations, but that’s exactly what art should do according to Paul Renner.
‘Our paths are guided in such an automated way, that we can only regulate them by being shocked via art‘. Renner is particularly keen when he doesn’t understand something. His decision to walk the path of an artist caused quite an uproar back at home, as his parents were somewhat extremist in their views. ‘My mother was a Nazi, Obergauführerin, and my father was part of the resistance. I experienced this surreal story personally. They both remained true to their ideals until their very last breath. However, they never separated, even though they fought quite a lot when it came to political issues; but other than that, they always loved each other.’ His three role models were Hermann Nitsch, Tadeusz Kantor and Sun Ra. Three People who enriched his life in the 70s with a whole new world view, one he could understand and wanted to know more about.
Paul Renner himself considered Hermann Nitsch the godfather of Punk, and wanted to learn all about excess, intoxication and art, which is why he was Nitsch’s assistant for 10 years. Already back then, Nitsch didn’t trust anyone other than Paul when it came to ‘cooking art’. ‘My grandmother had a guesthouse, there was always a lot of cooking going on back at my place. Cookery played a role in Nitsch’s theatre and, as I could actually cook, I cooked for him. I noticed that the spices, scents, and tastes are part of the action, part of the scene. I was incredibly proud.’ When Renner got acquainted with two Oxford professors, Medlar Lucan and Durian Grey and their ‘The Decadent Cookbook’ in the 90s, it became his bible. The two were pure theoreticians. And so Paul Renner was plunged deep into art, ‘because if you can’t really do something, you sample it; that’s how creativity works. It then becomes the engine for ideas.’ His current culinary project is called The FAKE, because it focuses on how to simulate tastes we don’t know.
As an example, he brings up faux turtle soup from his grandmother’s recipe book. Together with a cook from Vienna he creates dishes they think they know the taste of. It also contains ingredients of a social nature. ‘The counterattack on a food industry and gourmet magazine which are making its consumers dumber and dumber, which are full of idiocy, where they try to force their beliefs down on people, telling them what’s good and what isn’t, and how specific wines and dishes should taste. Whereas I care about taste and not about These ridiculous explanations. We’re taking over what others are faking.
Paul Renner uses different materials and techniques. So he pulls i.e. existing walls with honeycomb. ‘When I speak of the honeycomb, I also speak of the social state. This is a word which is mostly trodden on and disregarded the most; a behaviour embodied by politics whose aim is to vilify it even more.’ Paul Renner’s ideal scenario is to bombard all senses at the same time with his anarchic, subversive, and experimental approach in order to shock. He heavily relies on the philosophy of author Oswald Wiener. Man doesn‘t decide what he wants, rather inner mechanisms do it for him. These mechanisms and their development are what interest Paul Renner so much, and take him on a metaphysical journey. ‘I’m moving in the direction of still working on the fourth dimension, yet deep down I’m interested in achieving that place where metaphysics become spiritual.’ When asked about today’s delivery of art, Renner misses the fact that art has the power to change us to such a Point where we’re no longer one with society. ‘We believe that ‘feeling’ is a concept you can research. The more shaken the feeling is, the harder it is to accept Society as it is. The objective of my art is to transform destruction into positive energy