Maria Lassnig: Über die Präzision der Gefühle / On the Precision of Feelings

Opening: 04.04.23, 6pm
Curated and realized by Ilse Lafer and Peter Pakesch (Maria Lassnig Foundation) with the team of the HGB Gallery

With the exhibition Maria Lassnig: Über die Präzision der Gefühle / On the Precision of Feelings, the Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig presents the development of the Austrian artist’s drawn oeuvre. Around 60 drawings will be shown, which were produced between 1947 and 2012 and primarily depict the female body using a differentiated register of sensations. In addition, a selection of Lassnig’s animated films can be seen, which she made in the 1970s proceeding from her “body awareness drawings” in the context of feminist movements in New York.

The title of the exhibition is taken from a drawing from 1992 that shows the artist’s own body in radical foreshortening as a hybrid between human and animal. These kinds of physical transformations in Lassnig’s work are the expression of a continuous searching movement to give form to a concentration of sensation in the body. The artist’s sometimes witty, sometimes ironic but nevertheless precise metaphorical descriptions of the pictures are significant here, for example when she calls a self-portrait “gardenscissor”, “rose basket” or “molecule”. This game of self-description binds drawing and text together without becoming entrenched in meanings. Rather, Lassnig confronts us with verbal metaphors that are just as transient as a fleetingly perceived occurrence in the body, which is first and foremost feminine because it evokes one’s own bodily situatedness.

The exhibition seeks to show that the seismographic exploration of body sensations is based on an approximating, yet inconclusive process that is impressively articulated through drawing. Moreover, drawing is presented as a medium which is distinct from painting in Maria Lassnig’s work, which claims an independent position like a hinge between language (notebooks, poems, letters) and film.

Maria Lassnig (1919 - 2014) was an art student in National Socialist Vienna between 1941 and 1945. In the 1950s and 1960s she spent several years in Paris and through André Breton and Paul Celan she came into contact with surrealism as well as informal painting. It was during this time that she produced her first “body awareness drawings”. From 1968 to 1980 Maria Lassnig lived in New York, where she familiarised herself with the technique of animated film. In 1980 she returned to Austria and at the age of 61 she became the first woman in the German-speaking world to be offered a professorship in painting at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Through her participation in the 39th Venice Biennale in 1980 and in documenta 7 in 1982, her work gained international recognition.

The exhibition is being held as part of “meaoiswiamia - Guest Country Austria Leipzig Book Fair” at the HGB Gallery Leipzig. It is organised jointly with the Maria Lassnig Foundation, Vienna and implemented with the kind support of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport.

The gallery of the Academy of Fine Art sees itself as a membrane between the interior and exterior of the institution. The gallery's aim is to supplement and extend both the teaching contents and practices of the various departments as well as making a contribution to current inquiries in the arts, thereby establishing connections between internal and external discussions and - being situated in the centre of the academy - offering a social and discursive place for carrying out such debates. In the framework of the academy's specific capabilities, the gallery affords students, lecturers, invited artists, curators and theoreticians an experimental and reflective form of exhibition practice that can incorporate, beyond the presentations themselves, the active involvement with the exhibition and the reworking and reformulating discursive material.