Schloss Kalsdorf, Kalsdorf 1, 8262 Ilz 

OPENING on 1st of October 2021 at 3 PM

Exhibition 2nd and 3rd of October and 8. – 10. October 2021 and on appointment

Because of the current Covid situation a registration for visiting the exhibition is necessary.

Please call 0043 699 123 814 22 or write us an email hr@reinisch-graz.com

It’s easy to go into rhapsodies when it comes to classic still life painting. Whether they come from Holland, Spain, Italy or France, from the 17th or 20th century, these images are symbols of vitality and hedonism. At the same time, they are masterful works in which the painters showcased their prowess. They were always expensive, symbols of elevated taste and highly enlightening. At the height of earthly pleasures, they warn us of the impermanence of things. A flower often only holds its magnificence for a few hours before it becomes a sorry sight and, if it’s lucky, a fruit or vegetable, but usually dies and falls to the ground. Ever since the 17th century, vanitas works have served as very opulent reminders that our time down here is finite. But we have also learned to find beauty in decay and mould – in states of putrefaction. The entire arc of life up until death is inscribed in the still life. It is a meditation on life and death.

Following the impetus set by still life painting, Margriet Smulders applies the principles of painting to photography in her work. She condenses the sensual potential of the visual into almost unbearable passion. The artist works meticulously on the staging of her photos, all of which depict real-life arrangements without any digital alteration. And it’s not just the flowers and other fruits of the earth that are carefully selected and made to interact in a variety of interesting ways. Substances such as coloured milk, water or smoke enhance the material element of her work. The lighting, a central element of photography, allows for and even emphasises additional moods and creates space. The surreal dreamscapes we fly through in these pictures make us feel like those heavenly beings who float lightly clad through the baroque ceilings, peeking out from behind columns and forming parts of the pastoral scene. Eastern cultures influenced by Islam believe the entire garden is a paradise, while in Japan’s ikebana, shaped by the teachings of Zen, the focus is on the linear nature of the plants or the branches and stems. The western tradition almost exclusively favours the flowers. They are the reward for growth and are the source of the beholder’s momentary joy. For the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, flowers were the sex organs of the plants, which, botanically speaking, they actually are. For Margriet Smulders, they form a floral ocean – the primordial sea in which beauty and pleasure culminate.

The Reinisch Contemporary gallery is showing a representative selection of the opulent work of the Dutch photographer Margriet Smulders at Kalsdorf Castle. Nestled in a bucolic landscape, the setting of this country manor further accentuates the lush character of the exhibition.

Günther Holler-Schuster

Reinisch Contemporary