The paintings by Martha Jungwirth (*1940) are powerful, explosive, exciting, sensory, emotional and sometimes silent and tender: Loose lines and compressed pastose, but also transparent marks and areas of oil paint on cardboard. In the 1960s, Jungwirth’s painting was more strongly related to reality. Everyday objects, landscapes and the self appeared in her works. In 1968, Jungwirth had her first large-scale exhibition, in which she presented her works together with five other painters in the legendary exhibition ‘Wirklichkeiten’ (Realities), curated by Otto Breicha in the Wiener Secession. Besides collaborating with this diverse group, Martha Jungwirth forged her own way in the Austrian art scene unperturbed by international trends and the art market.
In 1977 she was invited to the documenta in Kassel, she took part in exhibitions in smaller museums and, from time to time, the Essl Museum in Klosterneuburg bought and exhibited her works. However, despite the constant,emphatic quality of her paintings, a large scale exhibition in an important museum remained absent. When the renowned artist Albert Oehlen was asked in 2010 to curate an exhibition with works from the Essl Museum’s permanent collection, he discovered Jungwirth’s paintings and immediately granted her works an entire hall. Perhaps it is thanks to the younger painter that she is finally receiving the more than justified institutional attention. Last year, the Kunsthalle Krems presented a retrospective accompanied by a comprehensive monograph with worksfrom five decades with some 130 paintings.Over the years, Jungwirth’s painting became increasingly more abstract, more expressive and the colouring more intensive. For Jungwirth the reproduction of reality is by no means a priority, thus we only seem to recognise isolated, tangible things. The forms are spontaneous and painted with quick movements of the brush, because in addition to the visual world, they document a fleeting, internal impulse.
In comparison to the earlier years, the colouring gains increased importance as an expression of a feeling or mood. In doing so, she senses a previously experienced atmosphere or memory and immortalizes it in her paintings. Jungwirth’s unmistakably gestural style, her fascinating flair for form and composition, but above all the powerful colours through which her virtually inexhaustible energy communicates, allow the at times dramatic paintings to become very personal and poetic statements.