Heimo Zobernig

1958 (Mauthen/Carinthia), lives and works in Vienna

From 1973 until 1977 Zobernig studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. He then continued his studies at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna until 1980. The artist occupies himself with sculpture, video art, painting, and installation. Through his works he addresses the production of art and its underlying conditions. Between 1980 and 1983 Zobernig designed the scenography for various theatres in Vienna, as well as for the Frankfurt Theatre. In 1985 he created paintings whose language of forms is reduced to a geometric structure. His sculptures from this time also make use of a reduced, geometrical canon of forms.

His finished objects are understood as a continuation of theoretical concepts, whose aim is to present pure form by renouncing any accessory parts. The radical reduction of form in Zobernig’s works allows us to draw a parallel at first sight with industrially manufactured concrete objects, which have been stripped down to their most fundamental features such as in Minimal art. It has its roots in Constructivism and the Dutch De-Stijl movement. Zobernig prefers to take a step back when he designs an object, thus allowing the material and content to speak for themselves.

The rigorous language of forms in his works contrasts strongly with the use of cheap materials such as cardboard, chipboard, polystyrene, or synthetic resin. Thematically Zobernig moves between space, colour, and text, making use of the entire spectrum of artistic forms of expression. He often constructs extensive, stereometric works which react to categories that already exist in the art scene. He dissects and analyses phenomena from an almost scientific point of view, and presents their individual building blocks - such as industrially standardised colours - in new combinations.

In 1988 Zobernig exhibited his works at “Aperto ’88”, an exhibition which took place during the Venice Biennial. In 1992 he took part in documenta 9 in Kassel, and went on to participate in documenta 10 in 1997. In 1995 he exhibited his works at the Vienna Secession. In 1997 he participated in the sculpture projects of Muenster, and between 2002 and 2003 his works were shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK) in Vienna. Between 1994 and 1995 Zobernig was a visiting professor at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. From 1999 until 2000 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts (Städelschule) in Frankfurt am Main. Since 2000 he has worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

In 1993 Zobernig was awarded the Monsignore Otto Mauer Prize among others. In 1997 he received the Prize for Fine Arts from the city of Vienna, and in 2002 he was given first prize for the Antifascism Memorial in Salzburg. In 2009 the artist was awarded the Golden Merit Badge of the federal province of Vienna.