February 19 – April 9, 2022
Opening: February 19, h 12
The Austrian artist Michael Höpfner in his first solo show at Galleria Michela Rizzo will focus on a series of new large-scale drawings, black and white photos, and installations that are the visual expressions of walking trips he undertook over the past few years.
Höpfner’s practice is solely based on walking in nature discovering unknown landscapes. His erratic research generates artifacts that reflect on his personal journeys in unfamiliar and remote places.
With only a few items for his daily survival, such as a backpack and a tent, and other tools for his art, like a camera and notebooks, he wanders in natural landscapes following the rhythms of the place. During these periods, the tent becomes his studio where he can experiment with his art. After he spent most of his thirties covering different parts of Tibet by walking, he used the experience to follow routes in Europe, sometimes starting at his studio in Vienna and most recently following rivers or ancient trails in Southeast Europe.
As the title of the exhibition suggests these hiking trips have a beginning and follow certain walking lines but do not end at certain places: the artist surrenders to contingencies that happen during his walks, going off the trail.
“Early August 2004 in Western Tibet I walked alone on a trail that ultimately should lead me after ten days – or so – to the source of Indus river. I never reached it. Third day early morning I followed a nomad woman covered with a huge fur lined leather coat carrying a small bag. While walking fast she touched certain rock-formations and let her fingers run through the few bushes wayside. At one point she stopped and slowly bent over in front of a rock. In the past two years on week long hiking trips I again picked up this detached feeling from the human world. But these other worlds – like a sandy surface of a plateau I cross, a buzzard I watch above me or a tree I sleep under are all around me: no need to create a new environment, no need to envision a new personal universe. Walking alone can make it visible.
Each step I have taken along a trail on a muddy bank of a free flowing river in Albania or on a paved road along the dry Western beaches of the Paratethys leads me into a dimension of time and place that is not human but can be just looked at and be interpreted by humans.
Hence, the new works are the silent vision of a walking looker rather than a narrative or documentation of an experience.
None of these recent walks are finished, each to be continued.”
Michael Höpfner (Krems/Donau, Austria 1972). His practice is focused on photographs, black and white drawings, installations and sculptures that generate from his walks in the most remote spaces of Eastern Europe, China and Asia. Among his latest exhibitions: Walk!, group show, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2022); Ti Bergamo, group show curated by Lorenzo Giusti, GAMEC, Bergamo (2020); Durchwanderte Kreisläufe / Cicli Traversati, State Gallery Lower Austria, Krems (2019); Dear Michael, from Edgecombe to Qumalai, Antonio Rovaldi – Michael Höpfner, curated by Davide Ferri, Galleria Michela Rizzo, Venice (2016); Canto di Strada, Hamish Fulton – Michael Höpfner, curated by Lorenzo Giusti, MAN Sardinia, Nuoro (2015); Lie down, get up, walk, curated by Heike Eipeldauer, Tresor – Kunstforum Bank Austria, Vienna (2015).
Michael Höpfner (born in 1972 in Krems/Donau, Austria) studied painting and graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and Fine Art Photography at the Glasgow School of Art. He lives and works in Vienna. His work is based on the experience of walking journeys in desert and steppe areas between Eastern Europe and China, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Tibet, China and South Korea. He reflects on these landscapes, the changing nomadic societies and his own performance in installations that use black and white photography, drawings, slide projections and tent sculptures.