Universalmuseum Joanneum GmbH

Not just a forerunner of the ‘New Painting’ movement


Alfred Klinkan died 25 years ago, and in 2020 he would have been 70 years old. From September 26th, the Neue Galerie Graz is devoting the most comprehensive retrospective to date to the artist. Klinkan was something of an artistic loner, developing a body of work through the 1970s that was shaped formally by graphics, full of humour, smutty jokes and subversive provocation. Echoes of Viennese Actionism as well as the tradition of visual poetry can be felt clearly. A change of location to Antwerp led to Klinkan taking up painting in near-explosive fashion. One could describe him as a painter beforehand, yet his intense excesses of colour that made him a forerunner of ‘New Painting’ in Austria occurred in Antwerp. For this reason, today, too, he must be allotted in equal parts to this cultural space and this scene. In the exhibition, these connections are clearly on show.

Öl auf Leinwand, 205 × 155 cm, Neue Galerie Graz, UMJ, Foto: Universalmuseum Joanneum/N. Lackner

Klinkan’s teachers have already been honoured in important exhibitions at the Neue Galerie Graz. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts under Josef Mikl and Wolfgang Hollegha and settled on painting, which in times of performance, conceptual and (first inklings of) media art already seemed anachronistic, or which today can even be understood conceptually.


If the Neue Galerie Graz engages with the work of Alfred Klinkan, it not only connects with the work of one of the most central positions in painting in the 1970s and 1980s; it also links up with its own history. Wilfried Skreiner, at the time the Director of the Neue Galerie Graz, defined in the early 1980s what he summed up as ‘New Painting’. Such young painters as Siegfried Anzinger, Hubert Schmalix, Alois Mosbacher, Josef Kern, Erwin Bohatsch and indeed Alfred Klinkan were for Skreiner the future at that time. The sensually-narrative, almost carefree painting experience of this generation was seen by the reception as the counterforce to conceptual art, which was felt to be hostile to the object and sustained exclusively by the idea of the artwork. From today’s perspective, one cannot help but think that this painting movement did, after all, work through many ideas that were conceptual.





Further information as well as picture material to download can be found at: Alfred Klinkan


Alfred Klinkan
Neue Galerie Graz, Joanneumsviertel, 8010 Graz
Opening: 26.09.2019, 7 pm