Susan Boutwell Gallery, Munich/Sydney
Munich, Theresienstraße 48
28.10. – 9.12.2017

Hirtl’s preoccupation with philosophical concepts, such as time, space, interior/exterior, language, purpose, self, heart, soul, spirit, has resulted in a very extensive, expressive, and impressive oeuvre of paintings that does not permit straight-forward categorization in terms of postmodernity and calls for a meditative and reflective approach.

Hirtl’s art is situated along borderlines without accepting borders; it crosses through western and eastern modes of thought trying to contextualize and comprehend one through the other;; it incorporates Japanese ideograms, kanji, into western abstraction; it playfully adopts the graphic strokes of ideograms and transforms the scriptural sign into an image, which in turn consciously dissolves the signifier and thus the meaning of the sign; and her art has the western viewer encounter an alluring enigma prompting a desire for deciphering, but being able to “read” the ideogram will not help. Identifying the sign does not mean you understand the sign. A reflective gaze and emotional openness may be much more important in one’s approach towards Hirtl’s paintings, in particular, because the experience of uncertainty is so essential.

Hirtl Exhibition Munich
Her work encompasses large-format canvases and multiple panels of smaller-scale paintings, which must be considered in their complementarity or rather as different pursuits of expressing a meaning linked to a signifier (represented by a kanji), which, according to Hirtl, is a “form of being in pictures” all by itself. Appropriate to the inherent, even if not necessarily legible signs/ideograms, Hirtl calls her large-format paintings “main clauses” and the smaller ones “subordinate clauses”, which lends her rich visual language a syntactic or even narrative nature despite all abstraction and reduction. The experience of gazing at one of the paintings while having a constantly changing panoramic perspective on paintings all around you turns into a fascinating mental journey of discovery. The experience sharpens one’s perception and sensation allowing to realize the artist’s intellectual intention: namely, to grasp that we can get a sense of the meaning of a concept (such as “the self” or “heart/soul/spirit”) only through repeated efforts to approach the ineluctable “essence.” With each attempt, with each variation we hope to get to the core and capture this essence, but this remains illusory because only the motion, the journey of discovery is meaningful and possible.

Hirtl’s paintings demand the viewer’s concentration and his/her letting go of habitual patterns of perception; they transform the canvas into a visual prompt for meditation; they give color to transcendence; and allow the viewer to experience the sublime.
E 945 120 x 90 x 2 cm, 2014
E 909 250 x 00 x 3 cm, 2013
Mirrored Heart, Soul, Spirit
Exhibition Claudia Hirtl Munich   Exhibition Hirtl Gallery Boutwell
Summary of the Speech on Occasion of Claudia Hirtl's Award Ceremony
'(Prize for Contemporary Art 2016 from the Government of the Province of Tyrol)

For the entire Speech please visit:
Speech on Occasion of the Award Ceremony by Maria Regina Kecht