It may be found in every city: these corners are few in frequency despite their central location. In Vienna, one such street is called Lichtenfelsgasse. Although it is located right next to the town hall, it has quite a few customers entering. However, everyone is currently knocking about roads, holes and building madly – on the one hand due to the expansion of the underground, on the other due to the general renewal craze currently sweeping the Austrian capital. Gallery owner Eva Presenhuber recently opened her new home in Lichtenfelsgasse No. 5.
Entering the new branch under the arcade, which now complements the three locations of the international retailer in Zurich and New York. “The rooms here are small, and it’s also good for artists to do small-scale exhibitions,” says Bressenhuber during a visit to the new gallery. “With the rooms in Zurich, on the other hand, you have to work two years to fill them.”
The Austrian show Tobias Pils is currently taking place in Lichtenfelsgasse, and is complemented by a design by Gerwald Rockenschaub (“Tobias Pils. Between us Space. Featuring Gerwald Rockenschaub”).
Home to small scale fairs
The gallery owner has set up an upstairs apartment, where she was speaking this morning about her plans and considerations for the new location. It’s also a gallery: in the three-room suite, potential clients can see the work of the artists Bresenhuber represents, from Joe Bradley to Franz West.
In addition, she arranged exquisite, elegant furniture, such as shelves designed by Wiener Werkstätte Josef Hoffmann or a table for Ugo Rondinone – the artist who previously motivated Prissenhuber to open her gallery in Zurich.
She has an on-off relationship with Vienna: after studying here at the Polytechnic University, she left in 1989 and focused on Switzerland and admission there. Vienna was largely ignored, although the merchant worked with some local artists.
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For example with Franz West, who has contributed greatly to her international career. His death in 2012 was a turning point: “When West fell ill and died, I was very moved. I was very afraid of losing and returned to Vienna often. ” The yearning arose for a more comprehensive commitment.
In the past decade a number of art dealers have moved to Vienna or opened branches here – along with Crone, Croy Nielsen, Johann König and Exile Gallery from Berlin, Gregor Podnar, who lives in Berlin, is planning a new site in the Danube.
Few art collectors in Vienna
Vienna is known for having an excellent landscape of institutions and galleries, but few great collectors and fewer females. “New York remains the world center of the art trade. After my absence for so long, Vienna must first be rediscovered,” says Bressenhuber. “I still hear that there are quite a few collectors. But Vienna definitely has potential, and there are younger generations as well.”
The current bid at Lichtenfelsgasse is a home match. Like Bressenhuber, artists Tobias Bils and Gerwald Rockenschap were born in Upper Austria. It was Beals who called on Rockenschaub to “intervene”. He drenched the gallery walls in an attractive mixture of muted and bright colours, so that the architectural features of the Gründerzeit building stand out well: blood-red paint emphasizes an arch that forms the passage between two rooms, a golden and irregular stripe-projection on the wall. Additionally, the colors of Biels’ preserved panels are contrasting black, white, and gray.
[Bis 21. Mai, Lichtenfelsgasse 5, Wien]
The artist’s surreal scenes, in which Prissenhuber shows the sixth solo show, are populated by people, horses and other animals trapped in bubbles. Sometimes an eye flies out of the horse’s head like a giant balloon, and then an eye replaces the head of a pregnant woman. Some characters are unsettled on horses or trying to find a foothold on a mountain of apples. Trees greet you from the horizon, whole forests. Bills leads his audience into a mysterious and disturbing world, but does not completely immerse the viewer.
How does the site affect the program?
Presenhuber has already positioned the artist quite well. Several of his paintings, whose price is about 70 thousand euros, were sold before the opening. Positions such as Sam Foles, Michael Williams, Karen Kilimnik and Joe Bradley are on the agenda later in the year. It is not yet possible to predict how much of the new site will be reflected in Presenhuber’s roster of artists. In addition to Rockenschaub and Pils, there are currently only two names on the list that have a closer connection with Austria: Franz West and Tamuna Serpeladze – both of whom have already passed away. Will the retailer use its Vienna presence to open new jobs?
“I’m not really looking for artists in Vienna that I can represent,” she says. “I am currently doing a project in New York with Sarah Ortmaier, who lives in Vienna. If I can find younger people who fit into the program and are accepted internationally, I would be happy.”
Bressenhuber sees her commitment in Vienna as a long-term one: “The exhibition is not just a test balloon, I will stay here. We will see it through.” Good news for the art scene in Vienna.