In autumn 2022, all three of the large halls at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf will be devoted to the 82-year-old Viennese painter Martha Jungwirth. This will be her first major exhibition and first retrospective in Germany, in the home of the famous Düsseldorf school of painting from the mid-19th century to the present day. After several early successes, such as her participation in documenta 6 in 1977, for decades Jungwirth was largely overlooked or ignored by the art world. Meanwhile, she continued to work in her studio in Vienna, far from public attention.
Martha Jungwirth is an important representative of the generation between the Viennese Actionists and Franz West, whose studio she took over. Over the past six decades, the artist has developed a unique approach to abstraction based on the body and a precise perception of the world around her. Her painting moves energetically between figuration and abstraction. Watercolor on paper has been her preferred technique for decades.
With her idiosyncratic, nonconformist approach to painting, her artworks occupy an intuitive space that exists beyond the formation of recognizable images, “before spoken language,” “before memory,” and “before the obtrusiveness of objects.” The compositions reveal themselves to her during the painting process, which she describes as an “adventure” in which she creates large-scale artworks in interaction with her materials using an approach between chance and calculation.
Martha Jungwirth’s work is an enormous enrichment to and expansion of the field of visual studies , especially for the city of Düsseldorf with its art academy and numerous art-historical links to the past and present of painting. This can and must be honored and questioned here with this extraordinary exhibition. As the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf has impressively demonstrated in exhibitions in recent years featuring Tal R, Tomma Abts, Michael Kunze, Chris Martin, Megan Rooney, and not least Carroll Dunham and Albert Oehlen , who “discovered” Jungwirth, painting is a laboratory of intensive visual experiences and reflective discourses.
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication and curated by Alicia Holthausen and Gregor Jansen.