Photo lead to the icon „Astronaut Jesus“ at Tytuvenai Church and Monastery, Lithuania; Roman Klug, 2009
„Die Erkenntniskathedrale“, mosquitoes, glue, collage, children drawing (found footage) & ink drawing, 42 cm x 56 cm, Roman Klug, 2009
The communication of openness
You could spend a long time looking in vain for ‘the theme’ of Roman Klug’s work, until you realise that is precisely the point: its openness. From the concentrated ambiguity of his graphic design for the University of Graz, to his diverse Actionist work with the Cooks of Grind collective, through to comics and transmedial ink drawings, and even his architectural projects - it is not just Klug’s career that seems defiantly diverse; each work builds layer upon layer of meaning, opening up new connections and relations within the micro-worlds they create.
From 1988 to 1998 Roman Klug studied architecture at the Graz University of Technology before making the move into graphic design, visual and performance art. It was inevitably a turning away from architecture—a move, he says, from the technical towards a freer creative licence. Nonetheless, throughout his work run the traces of his sense of the architectonic. On the one hand, there are the more obvious pictorial references in his graphic design to buildings such as the Confucius Institute of the University of Graz. But it goes beyond this: there is a dramatic rendering of 3 dimensions into 2D surfaces, coupled with a gradual shifting between intensification and diffusion, that gives even abstract designs such as the ‘Spiel Kunst Glück’ poster for the Art History Institute a visual depth that intrigues the eye. Asked about his inspiration, he immediately points to the Russian constructivist architects, and especially names El Lissitzky.
Lissitzky likewise worked across - and between - art, design, book art, photography and architecture. Lissitzky in particular believed in the potential of the artist as an agent for change, and one sees this attitude coming to the fore in other areas of Roman Klug’s work. As a student Klug was involved in development policy and the architecture of the Weltladen shop in Graz. More recently, his action art has taken a subtly playful approach to criticising the Austrian establishment, most famously with the Cooks of Grind collective, which he founded and ran for 10 years. While the group is positioned within the Actionist tradition of Dada and the Viennese movement, they in some ways take the premise of Actionism further: as a group, the idea of authorship is removed; beyond this, their work does not have an end product as such (unlike, for example, the photos lucratively produced by the Viennese Actionists). One of Klug’s favourite Cooks of Grind actions, ‘Verschimmelung in Exil’, referred to the Nazi expulsion of the intelligentsia. For thirty days, the Cooks grew beards and facial hair; simultaneously, mould was grown on photos of their faces against backdrops of locations of exile.
A current project of Klug’s, ‘Disco Intim’, ties in with his musical activities as the DJ B.R.White. A tent provides customers with a private dance experience: you pay your money, pick a DJ, and then have your own enclosed miniature turntable dancefloor and pole for the length of the song—just you and the DJ of your choice. The goal is to get away from the “see and be seen”, DJ-focused club culture and back to the joyful experience of dancing for its own sake. Following its success at the Lendwirbel festival, the Disco Intim concept is set to tour Austria.
This celebration of a sensual, less reflected engagement with life also comes to the fore in the spontaneity of Klug’s ink drawings. These are often highly intimate explorations of themes such as sexuality or vulnerability, yet whose layers also encompass accumulated emotional responses to politics or religion, and are not just drawings but transmedial collages involving photo and prints. They form the core, together with photographs and a spatial installation, of his KSG gallery show entitled “prospective/unreversed”, a reference to the breaking-down of existing limits not just within art but in a wider sense: personally, socially, politically, temporally.
In spite of their highly personal nature, there is a luminous clarity to Klug’s ink drawings that—although there is little visual resemblance—connects with Klug’s graphic design, with his transparent communication of information. Or indeed it could just be that all of his work simply springs from the way he is: “in general an open person”. The facets of his creative work, he says, “flow in and out of each other, and of different areas of life”. In a similar way, his art seems to be not just about presenting information to the viewer or audience, but to invite interaction and exchange: each piece is an open ‘communication’ in its literal sense of sharing.
Roman Klug "prospective/unreserved"
ERÖFFNUNG am 03.07.2012, 18.30 Uhr
in der Galerie G69 der KSG Kultur Service Gesellschaft, Glacisstraße 69, 8010 Graz
Ausstellungsdauer: bis 27. Juli 2012.
Öffnungszeiten: Mo bis Do 10.00 bis 16.00 Uhr, Fr 10.00 bis 12.00 Uhr.
Was ist diese vorhergesagte Zukunft in der Ausstellung, die in der Gegenwart eintritt? Warum sind die zwei der drei Affen (Minai, Kikanai und Iwanai) plötzlich am Quell' und vergessen dabei ihr gewohntes Verhalten? Kann und soll man Franz Wests Passstücke, mit den Schachteln Marcel Duchamps gepaart mit einer olfaktorischen Überraschung in einem Kunstwerk zitieren und zusammenbringen?
In seinen Werken zeigt Roman Klug, geboren 1970 in Wien, seine psychischen Seinszustände/Grenzüberschreitungen in einer unsäglich schonungslosen Offenheit, die (fast) schon weh tut. Ausgestellt werden zudem ein Schuhfetisch, der etwas anderen Art, die horrorfictiontrash-Covers und vieles mehr.