Hans Kupelwieser

Badezimmer, 1995/2003 [Bathroom]

Using templates, standardised symbols of wet rooms and a life-sized human silhouette are cut into the steel plate, constituting this ground sculpture. The voids through which the grass is visible refer to the presence of steel and can be deciphered as an indexical information system of object symbols. In this imbrication of material, form, function and linguistic operation, the coordinates of Kupelwieser’s sphere of action collide and irritate, bearing witness to the ambivalence of nature and culture, of the image as a negative of a sculpture, and the sculpture as the positive of an image.  


Hans Kupelwieser’s career as a sculptor started at the Academy for Applied Arts in Vienna, with art and media theoreticians Bazon Brock and Peter Weibel. Thus his concept of sculpture defined itself from the beginning on the basis of a media approach, enabling him to operate freely between various media, material and functions.


His sculptural concerns are formulated in photography, furniture design, writing and the digital medium, photograms, and in the techniques of inkjet, digital airbrush and computer animation. He works with all kinds of material, such as rubber, steel, glass and paper, and each work process is subject to a precise conceptual analysis. In the operative language field, material and media will fuse to become linguistic or indexical sculptures, which become particularly effective in the form of flat pictorial ground sculptures.


In the ground sculpture entitled “Badezimmer” (bathroom), Kupelwieser uses architecture-based templates to cut standard symbols for wet rooms and a life-size human silhouette into the large-scale steel slab, which fulfils its function in the medium of architectural drawing. The empty spaces, through which the cut grass becomes visible, refer ex-negativo to the presence of steel and seem like geometrical ornaments in a carpet.


It is an abstract material sculpture, the perforation lines of which, at closer inspection, can be deciphered to be an indexical information system of object symbols. In this intertwinement of material, form, function and linguistic operation, the co-ordinates in Kupelwieser’s sculptural field of action meet, irritating in their ambivalence of nature (soft grass) and culture (hard steel), an image as a negative of a sculpture and sculpture as a positive of a picture – this again being a photographic paradigm. 

Author: Christa Steinle 
Plan & Overview: Position 40
Owner: [Property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Hans Kupelwieser

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