Norbert Schwontkowski 

Norbert Schwontkowski “Wir in dieser Drecksbrühe”/ “Us in This Morass”
10.5.- 23.6.2007

Press discussion on Wednesday, 9 May at 11 am, the artist is present.
Press pictures to download from
Opening: Wednesday, 9 May at 7 pm

Introduction: Dr. Andreas Hapekemeyer, Collection Curator Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art, Bozen

This letter is to inform you of the first solo exhibition of the German painter Norbert Schwontkowski (1949) in Austria at the Schwaz City Gallery:

Exhibition discussion on Wed., 16 May at 7 pm with the artist friend Christian Stock and Karin Pernegger on Norbert Schwontkowski’s work

Open Atelier Wed., 30 May, 3 – 8 pm, Irony: Telling picture stories, drawing comic strips!

city gallery schwaz radio Innsbruck region at 105,9 Hz or live stream at
Tues., 15 May: Schwontkowski – hippieness and poetry
Tues., 19 June: summer special – bitter sweet happiness

The painter Norbert Schwontkowski is one of the most important German artists, whose works have aroused great interest in recent years, especially internationally. His artworks are found in international private and public collections. Art reviews affirm this acclaim and the art scene celebrates him as though an artist’s success were natural and inevitable. This is the stuff of a proverbial picture book career that otherwise only Hollywood could write, and Steven Spielberg is incidentally one of his most prominent collectors. Norbert Schwontkowski’s image world, on the other hand, seems unimpressed by all of this. From the start, it has devoted itself more to the enchantment of whiteness growing wild by the wayside than to turning the wheel of vanity. The images in delicate earthen and red shades speak of the poetry of everyday life. For this he does not need images spaces filled with details, but instead uses minimal means to tell of strange assemblies and encounters in worlds that evoke the charm of the surreal.

The exhibition title “Wir in dieser Drecksbrühe” (“Us in This Morass”) is taken from a work from 1997 exhibited in Schwaz, most subtlely reflecting the force of opposites. At the first moment, one is startled, fearing glimpses into the grounds of lost life. Then one is completely surprised by six swans happily splashing in the water. Similarly, the picture “Pforte” (“Portal”) from 1998 shows the black vinyl of a record by “The Doors”, while the picture “Künstlerhaus” (“Artist House”) from the same year depicts a rounded houseboat making gentle waves, rather than the architectural profile of a respected institution. Whether the portals of the aforementioned “Doors” have ever opened may be only one of the unanswered question that occupied an entire generation, to which Schwontkowski also belonged. And whether the boatman of the artist house will really find the way to the right shore is the subject of manifold artist legends. Title and picture are thus inseparably linked with one another. Irony is the inspector, imbuing the images with a broken lightness. No tragedy without comedy, no success without failure. Or is it the other way around? Like the beat of an inner pulse, Schwontkowski’s work is oriented to the vital opposites of life.

In the picture “Der Docht” (“The Wick”, 1994) a figure sits lost in dreams at a table with a candle, while the picture “Baltisches Licht” (“Baltic Light”, 2001) tells of an encounter between a desk lamp and a candle. Yet the pictures also look behind the scenes, as in “Schwarze Diamanten” (“Black Diamonds”, 2004) showing the broken windows of a jeweler’s shop, or in the picture “Im Echtgoldbazar” (“In the Pure Gold Bazaar”, 2003), where a figure veiled in black on a black ground pushes a shopping cart with a child in it past the viewer. Melancholy is not a hallmark of the work, but rather the reduction of a moment that tells a story as quickly as a breath of air. At first glance, the picture “Mongole am dürren Baum” (“Mongol by a Scrawny Tree”, 2004) gets lost in the white picture ground. The delicate branches do not seem strong enough to withstand another gust of wind, but the figure at the lower edge of the picture bears a heavy burden and is in a hurry, because a nomad knows the way even without a destination.

Norbert Schwontkowski has put together this exhibition with works from various German collections and enhanced them works from his own collection that have not been previously exhibited.

With best regards,
Karin Pernegger