Karl Korab / December 15 – February 15
Karl Korab was born in 1937 in Austria, in the wine district of Falkenstein, in a family of foresters. As a child, he experienced the horrors of World War II, which influence his artwork even today. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1957 to 1964, under the master Sergius Pauser. He was part of the then highly influential “Vienna School of Fantastic Realism”. There he established an artistic dialogue with artists such as Arik Brauer, Ernst Fuchs, and Anton Lehmden, later called the Wiener Phantasten, with whom he held several exhibitions in the early 1960s. Right after the school, he focused on still life painting, characterised by a surreal-fantasist style, which gave him international recognition and major success at a young age. Temporality and transience became essential elements of his work. When he settled in Sonndorf in the 1970s his focus change to deal mainly with landscape. He developed an archaeological view of the landscape and expanded his painting by incorporating a diverse range of materials in a collage-like manner. Nature and landscape, including the modifications and traces left by civilisation, are also a typical hallmark of his subtle watercolours and drawings. Korab, who still lives and works in Sonпdorf, makes an impressive and unique contribution to the depiction of landscape in Austrian contemporary art. Korab is now a renowned Austrian painter, who draws upon the tradition of post-impressionism, abstract art, or the New Objectivity movement He is considered as a versatile artist and starting from Surrealism he evolved a simplified, enigmatic imagery. His works include oil paintings, graphics, collages, screen printing and lithography, mainly still life, mask-like heads and landscapes, but also postage stamps, bottle labels and book illustrations. His works stand out for their simple forms and contents. He also worked as a stage designer.
Karl Korab counts among the most important Austrian artists of the 20th and 21st century. His works have been exhibited in Austria, Europe, the United States and Asia. Besides his prolific work as a painter, Korab contributed to the stage and costume design of “Zum großen Wurstel” by Arthur Schnitzler (1968). Karl Korab has collected several accolades, such as the Golden Medal of Bolzano Biennale (1969), Art Prize of Lower Austria (1972), and the Sandos Prize (1975), later resulting in numerous collective and solo displays. Today his body of work is extensively exhibited and collected by institutions such as the San Jose Museum of Art, Museum Liaunig in Neuhaus, and the Strabag Kunstforum in Vienna. He also holds the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Province of Lower Austria (1997).
Creating poetry through colors
An atelier reflects the inner feelings, the spirit of the artist, full of sensibility and mystery. The entirety of the objects and the color within this symbolic room conveys modestly, characters, figures and moments that are rather astonishing; often the mystery surrounding them shakes you. In the paintings of Karl KORAB this mystery comes quite softly in a detailed manner, so the art visitors of Albania will comprehend it. This is due to the skills of the hands and mind of a master of contemporary art. The elegant canvases of KORAB, an artist whose recognition has gone beyond Austria’s borders, bring the interesting aesthetic of intimate interior which exists in his home country. The mirroring of the reality is realized through the elements of the general composition, simple in appearance, but complex and deep in content. The quiet and almost silent window and the fair proportions between the space and emotions that the interior conveys, sometimes give the impression you are in a normal room, and at times as if you are in an atelier where any detail, whether ordinary or not, contains symbolic, important values. In the same manner, the artist plays with the objects versus the space, sometimes organizing, intentionally, their disintegration. The insertion of geometric solutions in the paintings has enabled the artists to walk through a non-descriptive realism and materialism. Harmonization of spaces inspired by the spirit of post war cubism, is combined with unique warmth and colors. The tuning filters try to reconcile the colors in controversy, without affecting the simplicity the works intend to transmit, at all. The window is used as an instrument that saves the multicolor content, by keeping the exterior apart. The equilibrium between two basic elements of KORAB’s works undergoes several experiments and variants. We do this experiment indeed in our life when we look through and beyond the window, from inside the room, and even inside ourselves. So, in a symbolic way the artist here wants to say that it is the interior of the human being that uses the window to discover the illuminated and multicolored horizon.
In this solid and dense cycle of paintings one can identify the individuality of the artist. Each of the artworks brings joy and cheerfulness. The transposition of nature into colors is achieved through a rich style, although simple, harmonic and with lots of hues and sensitivities regarding the content. The master knows how to give rhythm and orchestrate all classical modelling instruments. It is almost certain that such a breakdown and fragmentation of the entirety of the work, as well as each individual object, need a real master, who intends to recreate the whole thing on canvas following some idealism and perfectionism. The individual style and illumination of the works release a certain mystery due to the naturalism associated with them. In this inspiring undertaking KORAB resembles to big artists Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee.
One can identify the thrill that emerges from objects that are often emphasized through the pieces, which appear as comingled in collages. The table, the chair and the jacket hanging on it, a bed corner, formatted walls, floor, small objects can be easily animated sometimes ending up in grotesque, like in an absurd and metaphysical theatre. As well, somewhere in the center of the canvas a Kandinsky-like light breaks through the window. This makes you feel jumping and bursting over the hills, pieces of houses, trees and other objects that are covered with mystery, but are, however, entertaining.
The other set of content in the paintings of KORAB try to zoom the interior of atelier to a certain limit. In such works, the artist plays with objects cut into pieces, using as symbol a still life or a mural painting, thus transmitting energy through powerful and fine colors, realized through contrasting tones and graphic solutions. This surreal dimension, that evidently empowers the mystery, is expressed even more in the manipulation of theatre masks, shells, bread, household utensils, details of fake objects used in theatre. Their togetherness creates an assembly of meaningless and useless images, and calls for escaping, abandoning the commonplace pre-artistic reality.
In other words, works of KORAB inspire our fantasy and invite us to be present where we are not and perhaps can never be – in the interior part of a country that is completely different from ours.
The mastery of KORAB is also evident when it comes to the detailed drawings, combined with geometric and architectural applications. Density of small and well planned houses are absorbed in the limitless air space. The abnormal distance from where the town is viewed, brings again the dialog between interior and exterior of landscapes and any still life mentioned above. In those drawings, the preferred and profound theme for KORAB are the space and the human interior, too. Asymmetry in surfaces and plans that apply to small houses in the city outskirts distinguish the elegant and neo-expressionist style of KORAB. What we can conclude while analyzing those drawings is that KORAB considers the graphics as a kind of waiting room one needs to pass through before entering to the main room – atelier.
When analyzing the works of a European artist of this caliber it is not easy to find the right words to describe the beauty of his works, however I accepted the request to provide a professional commentary of KORAB’s artworks that GALERIAKALO will display from December 2016 through February 2017. The above impressions were inspired by the immediate impact and emotions the acquaintance with this great artist and his works had on me. Although personally I am familiar and believe I belong to the group of painters who focus on this kind of art, both in terms of concept and professional approach, it was not easy to undertake this task. From now on the KORABIAN poetry will accompany me as a traveling academy. Acquaintance with KORAB and his work within a very short period time, like in the case of transit flights in airports, opened the horizon for me, allowing me to sail or navigate virtually, in a state of half dreaming, to the heart of one of the most popular and famous art centers in the world – Vienna.
The Austrian KORAB holds a big and heavy name – the name of an Albanian mountain and we wish this meaningful coincidence be more than a simple a coincidence – a connecting bridge facilitating the mutual acquaintance and exchange of values of fine arts of our two countries.
Anastas Kostandini – TASO