Born 1967 in Brixen/Italy
Institute of Arts St.Ulrich/Italy
Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
1986 A-levels at Institute of Arts St. Ulrich/Italy
1989 Sculpture Department (Prof. B. Gironcoli) Master School
1990 Painting Department (Prof. M. Prachensky) Master School
1993 Painting Department (Prof. A. Rainer) Master School
1993 Institute of New Media (Prof. P. Kogler)
1995 Diploma for painting
Brixen, Hofburg, Garden
Dresden, Center for contemporary Art, Ostrale 2015
Cologne, Dagmar Schmidla Gallery, allegory of the cave
Westerwald, Keramikmuseum, Ceramics of Europe
Feldkirch, Palais Lichtenstein, GrauRand
Bozen, Gallery Prisma, Humans
Klagenfurt, Künstlerhaus, Humans
Kiel, Kunsthalle zu Kiel, The Human Senses and Perception in Contemporary Art
Köln, Gallery Schmidla, The fragmentary man
Vienna, Leopoldmuseum, The Excitement Continues, Contemporary Art from the Collection Leopold II
Bologna, Arte Fiera
Munich, Munich Contempo
New York, Scope
Cologne, Gallery Schmidla & Voss, Ecce Homo
Vienna, Gallery Peithner-Lichtenfels, Recent Works
Bolzano, Galerie Goethe2, Summer Container
Braunschweig, Academy of Fine Arts, Entsorgungspark für funktionslose Kunst im öffentlichen Raum
Frankfurt, Gallery Artbox, Sculptures
Hannover, University Hannover, Entsorgungspark für funktionslose Kunst im öffentlichen Raum
Hildeseim, Kunstverein Hildesheim, Entsorgungspark für funktionslose Kunst im öffentlichen Raum
Bodenburg, Kunstverein Bad Salzdetfurth e.V., Hand in Hand
Nürnberg, Gallery Hafenrichter & Flügel, Soloexhibition Urban Grünfelder
Düsseldorf, Gallery Andrea Brenner, Paintings
Eisenstadt, Burgenländische Landesgalerie Eisenstadt, Grafics
Bolzano, Gallery Prisma, Künstlerische Grafik, Südtirol
München, Gallery Storms, Young Austrian Art
Klosterneuburg, Essl Museum, Conflicts/Resolution
Bolzano, ar/ge kunst, Gallery Museum, Idee Corporee
Munich, BCG, Denken ist Handeln
Ulm, Stadthaus Ulm, Central - Neue Kunst aus Mitteleuropa
Vienna, Palais Porcia, Global Fusion 2002
Vienna, Galerie Museum auf Abruf, In Südtirol, lebt in Wien
Krumau, Egon-Schiele-Center, Works from the Collection
Leverkusen, Museum Morsbroich, Central - Neue Kunst aus Mitteleuropa
Paris, Espace Ernst Hilger, Young Austrian Art
Vienna, Siemens artlab, Die Neuen
Krumau, Egon Schiele Center, Open studio
The fragmentary man
Is it not true that minimalism is an advantage in order to cling to a moment, if you can include the works of Urban Grünfelder in this? The form of the sculptures cannot be called into question. Their statements are concrete and there are no alternatives left. The social and political reference is always clear.
Urban Grünfelder’s work is influenced by overcoming aggression, violence and suffering, hunger and excess. The artist exposes the necessity of the present time, the desire to revoke reality in the sense of justice, which touches every aspect of daily life, and contradicts the domineering culture of consumption and superficiality.
Urban Grünfelder gives his sculptures a deranged identity, like the anexoric in the posture of a crucified human with a sack of bread around her neck, a figure bent backwards, tormented and forced to endure a refuse bag projecting from the chest and attempting, with flowers in the mouth, to make the stench of our trash-filled society have a pleasant fragrance and taste. The artist refers to mental and psychic states in their most blatant form. He shows his audience the status of powerlessness adverse their own weakness. The onlooker attempts to gain distance, turning away partly in irritation.
Irony is taken to a moral extreme in the artist’s sculptures like the “Devouring crutches”. A man seated, without arms or legs, and with crutches, which reach deep into his gullet. The crutches symbolize a cross that is meant to suggest hope. Here, reality is the perception of the limits of our own physicality. Without arms and legs, the figure is incapable of using these crutches. This is a metaphor for a mentality, for humiliation and domineering behaviour and the true relationship of one human being with another.
The observer is unavoidably confronted with ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, there is astonishment about the unmistakable directness of the sculptures, and on the other hand, provocation at having been caught out. Urban Grünfelder’s sculptures are a reaction to the decadence of society and its themes. They leave the observer feeling moved and disconcerted.
It is impressive how Urban Grünfelder translates his emotions into the sculptures, superimposing beauty and imperfection on them. He underlines the strength of the face, the weakness, the shy response. Equally, he not only reflects through his sculptural positions, but also provokes partly because of their religious context.
Urban Grünfelder represents male sculptures with highly emotionalized everyday objects like bread rolls, suits, funnels, crutches, measuring tape, which reproduces the content and themes of the sculptures. They highlight questions about human existence and society’s behaviour. Since the beginning of time, mankind has been considered as the beautiful, strong lineage. This has changed so radically in Urban Grünfelder’s sculptures, since through their poses and postures, their nakedness, weakness, indignities and paralysis they expose brutality in its most crass form as an integral part of our culture. The interaction between the sculptures and the audience refers as such to the existential dimension – everything is at stake, the survival and extinction of humanity.
The selected monochrome high-gloss colours further reinforce this impetus. Of interest are the impact of colour and design. The polish and gloss expose a society that intends these surfaces to conceal the obscene and perverse. Oppressiveness goes hand in hand with voyeurism. Every figure is individual, though they are not suited to simplistic interpretation.
Urban Grünfelder develops his sculptures out of ceramics, which are among man’s oldest cultural and artisan skills. Clay – the raw material eventually forming the sculptures – suggests vitality to the observer. The figures grow beyond themselves and overstep their reality. They are a parody of being originally human. Yet the individual sculptures are only realized, as they are unfolded in numerous sketches.
In the context of working with Urban Grünfelder, I became aware of an intrinsic physicality within the body that is implicit to his sculptures. The bodies reflect something much greater outside them; they are a kind of mirror of society, its conventions and constraints.
Urban Grünfelder, the person, as well as his various facets and personal living conditions must be understood as part of his works for the purpose of interpretation. Urban Grünfelder always searches for standpoints and thematic emphases, which preoccupy him artistically, in order to put them at the centre of his work. His own physicality seems to serve as an artistic medium, yet independently of any specific comparison with the body. By the same token, our perception should focus on the human components in his works, and the mentality that is to be expressed. These aspects reflect the disquiet and inhumanity of our time.
The fragmentary man/PDF
Paintings and self portraits
I believe the painter Urban Grünfelder would have chosen this plain title for a text about his art. “To purge” is the first word that comes to my mind in regard to his work, whose development I have been priviledged to follow over the past ten years or so; to leave out, to condense, to concentrate - until his canvases bear only what is indispensable to painting: pigment and fiction.
Backgrounds in acrylic paints, figures in masterful oil paints, both often in bright “signal” shades, quite close to the co mon color properties, but always shifted a few nuances, which account for the unique character and which transform his works into pieces of art - quite an achievement. Maybe the fiction begins with the way he applies the paint. Grünfelder meticulously avoids every gesture, every individual “stroke” with his paint brush; the energy I see in the opaque monochrome shapes the artist takes himself from their surfaces. He conceals from the viewer that which we appreciate about many other paintings from different times and artists, also a desideratum in academic art history. At the same time Grünfelder knows only too well about the object character of every painting and thus the general impossibility of that concealment. In short, he provokes us.
Open secrets - as viewers we could have begun thinking at the word “oil paint”. Suprisingly often - to me - the painter uses the word “communication” in context with his work. From this field we know that it is not concrete matter that meets and interacts, but rather wishes, desires, dreams, nightmares, projections, phantasies - in myths, metaphors, symbols. Ecce homo - and maybe this being is the most comprehensive of all our fictions.
In general the paintings depict a person, seldom two, or rather something we could describe as “logo”, as signet, symbol, or metaphor of a person whose abstract outline, always faceless, without individual recognizability, mostly genderless. Many of Grünfelders figures could be women; of course not “dulcet”, “round”, obstensibly senseous, they serve no scheme. Urban Grünfelder says in principle he probably always only depicts himself, ecce homo. The stories, the conditions stick to the canvas as if pressed and shock frozen; motionless shells caught in their poses. Only the viewer is able to move - physically and mentally - and the artist invites us to do so.
Examples: a figure in a shade of darkest blue crouches as if freezing in a cold blue winter morning, she protects her extremities, is physically and psychologically lonely. Or: a grotesk disembodied corpus, protects its head, plugs its ears, does not want to hear any more gruesome news, has enough since the cruxifiction, jerks. It is up to us. How far we want to see and hear the essence of these paintings. How much we allow ourselves to leave our social shells, the masks of society, and are willing to endure the naked sight of the other as well as ourselves.
Another crouching figure in a different painting, helmet head, in an almost military dark grey, with lustful curledup toes he extends himself over the canvas and shoots, as he believes, into the world - and yet he appears to us like a skewered, literally dumn ape, who will not leave his red cage. I do not want to have to decide if I shoot, even without testicles. The duality of our role as the viewer, the sense of being watched while watching, always makes for a shared experience. A rare painting depicting two figures, identical frontal half nudes, grouped together to a triptychon with an empty light blue. Our view cannot find a hold in it. Do they threaten us? Do they want to separate into the emptiness of the adjacent paintings, or maybe more brutally, do they want to duke out or endure something among several, among many? Or are they yet again only an “I”, social or psychological conflicts among three, between two, or within one?
Paintings and self portraits/PDF
Ceramics of Europe
Editor: Keramikmuseum Westerwald
Editor: Kunstverein Kärnten 2013
The fragmentary man
Editor: Urban Grünfelder, 2013
Von Sinnen Wahrnehmung in der Zeitgenössischen Kunst
Editor: Anette Hüsch, 2012
The Excitement Continues, Zeitgenössische Kunst aus der Sammlung Leopold II
Editor: Franz Smola, Diethard Leopold, 2012
20 Jahre ar/ge kunst Galerie Museum
Editor: Sabine Gamper, 2006
La Main dans la Main
Editor: Hubert Egger, Norbert Hilbig, Hans-Werner Kalkmann, 2005
Editor: Urban Grünfelder, 2004
vorn 2004, Das Magazin für freie Gestaltung
Editor: Joachim Baldauf und Agnes Feckl, 2004
art position 2003, Almanach zur jungen Kunst in Wien
Editor: Kolja Kramer, 2003
art position 2003, Conflicts/Resolution
Editor: Kolja Kramer, 2003
art position 2002, Almanach zur jungen Kunst in Wien
Editor: Kolja Kramer, 2002
Editor: Maggie. Mc Cormik & Claudia Maria Luenig, 2002
in Südtirol, lebt in Wien
Editor: Berthold Ecker & Wolfgang Hilger, 2001
Works from the studios
Editor: Hana Jirmusova`, 2001
CENTRAL, Neue Kunst aus Mitteleuropa
Editor: artlab, 2001
Sammlung der Stadt Wien, MA 7
Sammlung des Bundes, BMUKK
Gesellschaft der Freunde der bildenden Künste
Boston Consulting Group
Stiftung Südtiroler Sparkasse
Austria, Germany, Italy and USA
Michael Morgenbesser I creasign.net
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