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Painting as an act of creation

Max Weiler (1910 – 2001)


The desi­re to find con­tem­pora­ry artis­tic ans­wers to mankind’s eter­nal rese­arch for a real genui­ne repro­duc­tion of natu­re in its com­ple­te for­mal and spi­ri­tu­al depth is at the heart of Max Weiler’s art. As one of the most signi­fi­cant pain­ters of the Aus­tri­an modern peri­od in the 20th cen­tu­ry, he deve­lo­ped his own plea­sant pic­to­ri­al world of new shapes and figu­res over near­ly seven deca­des, stan­ding out from the gro­wing hege­mo­ny of post 1945 abs­tract and con­cre­te art.

A spe­cial, never exhi­bi­ted and unsold selec­tion of pain­tings in egg tem­pe­ra and drawings from the two most important pro­duc­ti­ve peri­ods of the ear­ly 60s and 80s offer the oppor­tu­ni­ty to view the power­ful lan­guage of the pain­ter in a new way and to purcha­se spe­ci­fic works for one’s own collec­tion, too. Gal­le­ry owners W&K ‑Wie­ner­roi­ther & Kohl­ba­cher, experts in 20th cen­tu­ry Aus­tri­an art, have selec­ted their noble depen­dence loca­ted in the Schön­born Bat­thyá­ny Palace in the 1st district of Vien­na to host the exhi­bi­ti­on. The loca­ti­on would have plea­sed the pain­ter becau­se its Baro­que halls are spa­ti­al­ly defi­ned, that’s true; but they also offer visi­tors a way to tru­ly expe­ri­ence depth, aiding the pic­tures of this pri­va­te collec­tion momen­tous­ly deve­lop their infi­ni­te aura.

As shown by indi­vi­du­al works at the Palais Schön­born-Bat­thyá­ny, what is so con­vin­cing here is the for­ce with which colours were brushed onto the can­vas: near­ly tan­gi­ble bodies and har­bin­gers of wis­dom.

Max Wei­ler was a pain­ter inso­far as unders­tood by the anci­ent demi­ur­ges: he saw hims­elf as creator of his own world, an ana­lo­gous one to natu­re. Howe­ver, it was a long wea­ning pro­cess (inde­ed, las­ting deca­des) until he final­ly shook off the tra­di­tio­nal repro­duc­tions of the visi­ble world and deve­lo­ped an ever deeper under­stan­ding for the inner con­nec­tions in natu­re, its ener­gy, and the repea­ting princi­ples of exis­tence and tran­si­en­ce. He was brought up in, at the time, an unspoilt and lush natu­ral area in Tirol. Max Wei­ler expe­ri­en­ced the strength and oppo­si­te sides of natu­re as well as the artis­tic ans­wers wit­hin natu­re more force­ful­ly than anyo­ne else. His own art had to tack­le the­se domi­na­ting, deman­ding and inspi­ring requi­re­ments right from the very start. The decisi­ve moment came at the end of the 50s. Max Wei­ler was 50 years old when he freed hims­elf com­ple­te­ly from the shack­les of a ‘copy­cat’ art and crea­ted a pic­to­ri­al natu­re, ‘which was as lively as the real one, burs­t­ing with coin­ci­dence and yet orde­red.

A natu­re, ‘lacking that natu­ra­lism and repla­ced by a new crea­ti­on of life-like trees, grass, clouds, earth, and air.’ In the Als alle Din­ge cycle he tried to imple­ment the rich­ly alle­go­ri­cal and abs­tract lan­guage of bibli­cal psalms found in the trans­la­ti­on of the mys­tic Eck­hart not figu­ra­tively but, for the first time ever, by using colours and ges­tu­res in a pain­ting.

As shown by indi­vi­du­al works at the Palais Schön­born-Bat­thyá­ny, what is so con­vin­cing here is the for­ce with which colours were brushed onto the can­vas: near­ly tan­gi­ble bodies and har­bin­gers of wis­dom. This cycle is a more peace­ful one, fol­lowing the tem­pes­tuous Wie eine Land­schafy seri­es. ‘The sway, the air, natu­re, rocks, unspoilt by man­kind, peace, the weight of natu­re, blood. A plant,’ are expres­sed in an asto­un­din­gly har­mo­nic and poe­tic way in the­se pain­tings. Using earth-like hues to repre­sent flo­ra, Max Wei­lers makes his con­stant­ly flowing but shapeless figu­res sway in an ima­gi­na­ry space of gre­at depth which con­vey a very peace­ful, sen­su­al, and medi­ta­ti­ve vibe to his pain­tings. Max Wei­ler began to collect his thoughts in so cal­led day and night note­books star­ting from the 60s, while he tried to paint his pain­tings only using his intui­ti­on, pin­ched from ‘the other part of my con­scious­ness.’

At the age of 54, Max Wei­ler took over a mas­ter­class in pain­ting at the Aka­de­mie in Vien­na, which he only relin­quis­hed after being awar­ded an Eme­ri­tus degree in 1981. In the fol­lowing 20 years, Max Wei­ler com­ple­ted other work cycles that can’t be real­ly con­si­de­red a ‘later peri­od’, rather more a fan­tasti­cal accu­mu­la­ti­on of his pic­to­ri­al reflec­tions and solu­ti­ons. The Wald­tem­pel from 1981 offers a con­vin­cing pre­sen­ta­ti­on of his latest work at the Vien­na exhi­bi­ti­on, while Weit­ge­streck­te Land­schaft from 1983, with its impres­si­ve nigh-on 7 metres’ width, repres­ents a pic­to­ri­al high­light of this spe­cial selec­tion of work over time. The new natu­re as inter­pre­ted by Wei­ler cele­bra­ted in the­se pain­tings is tri­um­phal, using light and posi­ti­ve colours. A rhyth­mic and explo­si­ve style burs­t­ing with pic­to­ri­al rich­ness and gra­phic sweet­ness.

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ist Kunstexpertin für Malerei des 19. und 20. Jhdts. Langjährige Autorin für die Kunstzeitschrift PARNASS, zahlreiche Katalogbeiträge; Autorin der Werkverzeichnisse zu Rudolf von Alt und Theodor von Hörmann; Kuratorin der Ausstellung über Theodor von Hörmann im Leopold Museum, Wien, 2016.

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