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The Palazzo Cini Gallery, Venice

Martha Jungwirth Herz der Finsterni

The Palazzo Cini Gallery, Venice

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini presents an exhibition of new works by Austrian artist Martha Jungwirth, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, Director of the Institute of Art History of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, and supported by Thaddaeus Ropac gallery, coinciding with the 60th Venice Biennale. Over her career of six decades, Jungwirth has forged a singular approach to abstraction that is grounded in the body and closely observed perceptions of the world around her. The artist draws upon ‘pretexts’ that become the triggers for fleeting, internal impulses that inform her vivid, expressive paintings. In Herz der Finsternis, Jungwirth takes Joseph Conrad’s eponymous 1899 novella, museum inspired this latest series of paintings titled Porte Dorée. She explains: ‘The subjects of migration and persecution have taken on a completely different reality for me. It disturbed me, this long history of displacement, and how it is still going on today.’

Heart of Darkness, as the starting point for her recent body of work.
v The exhibition’s German title references Conrad’s book, which Jungwirth read as a young woman. It tells the fictionalised story of a Belgian steamboat expedition up the Congo River and explores the darkness and brutality of European colonialism in Africa at the time. After visiting the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration at the Palais de la Porte Dorée, a building constructed for the Paris Colonial Exposition of 1931, the tale found its way back into Jungwirth’s mind. Deeply moved by what she saw, her visit to the of her cardboard supports to appear – for empty space is as important to her as color.

Characterised by decisive brushstrokes, Jungwirth’s work is poised somewhere between intuition and calculation, balancing representation and sheer materiality. Although residing primarily in abstraction, recognisable elements often emerge from her dynamic marks. In contrast to the rational principles of minimalism and conceptualism that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, Jungwirth’s paintings convey a palpable sense of self. As she has described, ‘My art is like a diary, seismographic. That is the method of my work. Drawing and painting are a movement that runs through me.’ She describes her painting process as an ‘adventure,’ driven by a direct rhythm involving the body, with finger marks and scratches asserting a visceral record of her presence in the work; ‘my painting is action and passion: a dynamic space.’Luca Massimo Barbero emphasises ‘the intensity with which Martha Jungwirth has discovered and traversed Palazzo Cini, harmonising the magnificence of the past with the existential contemporaneity of painting. It is precisely this way of moving like a seismograph – as she herself says – that allows her to exist within painting as if on the edge of an abyss, accompanying us to observe it and to feel ourselves plummeting within. Every brushstroke is a reference to the human condition, every canvas is its physical, visual, and material correspondence.’








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  • Martha Jungwirth Ropac Preview Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Martha Jungwirth Ropac Preview Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
  •   Martha Jungwirth  Ohne Titel (Quai Branly), 2023  Oil on paper on canvas 241.5 x 300.5 cm (95.08 x 118.31 in)  Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Martha Jungwirth Ohne Titel (Quai Branly), 2023 Oil on paper on canvas 241.5 x 300.5 cm (95.08 x 118.31 in) Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
  • Martha Jungwirth, Ohne Titel, aus der Serie “Porte Dorée”, 2023.Oil on paper on canvas, 242 x 276.5 cm (95.28 x 108.86 in).© Martha Jungwirth. Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Martha Jungwirth, Ohne Titel, aus der Serie “Porte Dorée”, 2023.Oil on paper on canvas, 242 x 276.5 cm (95.28 x 108.86 in).© Martha Jungwirth. Photo: Ulrich Ghezzi.
    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac