matta wagnest, matta, wagnest, artist, künstlerin, malerin, skulptur, wien, österreuch, europa, skulptur europa, soplo, austira, painter, painting

In the Breath of the World / In the Whisper of the World

The painting cycle soplo by Matta Wagnest

Walter Seidl


In her painting oeuvre, Matta Wagnest relates to a world of ideas and imaginings in which the question of earthly existence and interpersonal communication of individuals shifts into the focus of discussion. Wagnest uses the colours black and purple – strongly reminiscent of the print colour magenta – to explore the primary questions of human existence by means of the primary colours used in a media landscape. Inherent in the extremely reduced use of colour is the spontaneity of tachiste colouration; its minimal quality is deployed as an attempt to enhance the expressive power of the subject and, in the vibrant dynamics of the movements, to activate the question of existence in the observers’ field of vision. The lines of force thus released bring those overwhelming moments of life into play that are graspable and palpable in their omnipresence, yet remain forever unfathomable in their function.

For Wagnest, however, the question of the origin and meaning of human activities does not rest so much on existential premises that deal in fear, death, responsibility and actions as elemental human experiences, but on the invisible forces surrounding us daily, whose visualisation the artist urges on in her painting. Though the titles of the individual pictures may describe concrete forms of existence, flamingo, toucan, tulip, for instance, they remain true to abstraction in their interpretive components and hence symbolise various expressive modes of representation. The view onto our present world is fulfilled through the eyes as central organ of sense, which Wagnest refers to with the Spanish title ojos. The artist draws the bow or arco in a balance between denoting the individual images and achieving a simultaneous anonymity and universality by using only two colours. Wagnest thus creates a freedom of artistic scope which enables her to explore the nuances and movement sequences of different forms of existence.

The artist points to the origin of all life in her pictures and thus to the cycle of creation that serves as the basis of a certain human existentialist debate, whose genesis is connected to the questions of “whence”, “why”, and “whither”. The freedom to choose options is the basis of creative activity, but is restricted economically and politically by the achievements of civilisation. So what matters is to keep rediscovering and interpreting freedom. Wagnest answers questions relating to the earthly and the “above-earthly” – the transcendent – by using  two colours, magenta and black. Magenta alludes here to the transcendent, “above-earthly” position that lends the pictures a level of feeling and sensuousness to be fathomed out by the beholder. Black is used as elemental basis, placed in charged polarity to magenta and endowing the images a dynamic gestural potency. This bi-coloured reality level keeps shuffling corrections in navigation by taking magenta on one occasion and then black on another in order to set the dominant pictorial level and thus keep the significance of the individual dimensions in balance. The communicative potential of Wagnest’s pictures consequently opens up for the observer in the suggestion of spaces, which are infused by a dynamic breath of an ephemeral life force.