Guenter Brus: You are invited to the opening …
1983, pencil / paper, 30 x 21,5 cm
The Austrian movement called Viennese Actionism is one of the most interesting artistic expressions of the second half of the 20th century. Its main members were Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, and Günter Brus (some sources also cite Arnulf Rainer). In the turbulent time-laps of the 60s and 70s, they advocated an authentic and radical reaction against the dogmatic mentality of the period. They explored the issues of identity, creativity, and the role of art in the social context, performing rituals full of tension and brutality.
Günter Brus’ artwork is mostly documented through photographs of his actions, as well as his drawings, where he explores the human body as the central object of his research, pushing the limits of his own physical endurance. His performances were provocative and aggressive, and were mostly conducted at gallery openings or down the street. In 1968, together with Otto Mühl, took part to the Kunst und Revolution event at the University of Vienna, causing a public scandal that forced them to leave their homeland. Brus was covered by his own excrements, and insulted the Austrian politicians singing the Austrian anthem while masturbating. Nevertheless, after almost thirty years (1996), Austria awarded him with the Grand Austrian State Prize, the highest state recognition.
With such experiments, based on borderline experiences and controlled self-destructive actions towards his own body, the author can be regarded as one of the predecessors of body art. Even if live Performance art has always been the main interest of his work, the author did not neglect to explore painting (his interest was primarily directed towards abstract art movements as Tachisme), to which he began to devote himself intensively since the 1970s.
Günter Brus’ artworks have been included in many international exhibitions, such as Documenta (V, VII), the Venice Biennale or the Sydney Biennale. An extensive assembly of his artwork from the 60s to present day can be seen at the Essl Collection in Klosterneuburg, Austria. Among the venues that dedicated him a solo exhibition (London, Paris, Veinna, Berlin, Amsterdam) is also Koper, where the author held a small exhibition of drawings in 1983 at the Meduza Gallery. During the show, Brüs realized a drawing on paper that depicts Medusa herself, reinterpreting the mythical figure with an Art Nouveau style.