Gustav Troger

1951 (Kohlschwarz/Styria), lives and works in Graz, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Gustav Troger is a trained locksmith and ornamental metalworker and taught himself his artistic skills. Since 1974 he has been working as a graphic artist and since 1978 as a sculptor. The artist does not restrict himself to one medium but is rather a painter, sculptor, graphic designer, performer and installation artist in one. The question of one’s own identity, its deliberate splitting, breaking with standardised conditions, opening up unknown aspects of reality is characteristic of Gustav Troger, who already perplexed audiences with his “Bildsäcke” in the early 1980s: the canvas was hung together to create undefined forms, ladders, forests or entire room interiors, stuffed with newspaper, painted and attached to the ceiling on thin wires. The panel painting had detached itself, was no longer nailed down, but rather became a free floating three-dimensional sculpture.

Shortly after that, he created his heavy metal sculptures. Since 1989 he has been using mass and consumer goods as the material base for his work. Plastic objects such as chairs, rabbits, cars or watering-cans are regularly perforated and thus divested of their intended function and at the same time raised to the status of art works. Troger breaks through the closed surface, revealing a view of what lies behind, a new dimension, and encodes familiar aspects by means of this alienation. For Troger the concept of sculpture is a ductile, malleable mass. His works – performances, painted works, and his explicitly sculptural works – mould the concept of sculpture, changing the range of its accustomed connotations. In addition to changing the classical concept of sculpture in this way, another salient aspect is his reaction to found material and the associated withdrawal of a recognisable, personal style.

The artist also works in public space and has designed the altar in St Andrew’s Church and the wall of the exhibition room at Grazer Congress, among others. The mirrored horse in Köflach’s Rathausplatz is another sculpture in public space. The artist has already tested this method of mirroring in many of his objects, including a “Porsche”, pillars and altars. The artist pieces together numerous little pieces of mirror to create a whole, thus distorting the optical effect of reality and raising the following questions: How real is reality? What is appearance and what is reality? Where does truth begin and where does it end? In 1987 Troger was awarded the Monsignore Otto Mauer Prize.

In 1998 he won the Achievement Prize of Styria Province. Troger’s works have been on show in 1983 at Neue Galerie Graz, in 1984 at the Vienna Secession, in 1991 at the Sculpture Biennale in Padua, and in 2005 at Forum Stadtpark in Graz, among others.