Obstructions to a view.
Paintings by Walter Strobl.
The horizon is buoyed by a Castle nestled on a mountain side just above a glistening river framed by the foliage of vascular trees and
sumptuous plants; a scenario of bounty and sustenance in the thicket of rural fertility…but not in Walter’s landscapes.
Air vents, sky-lights and what the painter describes as other “Autonomous objects” obstruct potential panoramic deep sky vistas launch by
urban rooftops, becoming primary subjects that actually barrage the “window frame” to claim its territory. These coordinates in 18 century
European Landscape Painting are sacred ground and dutifully reserved for parasols, fisher men with satchels draped across their shoulders
and horse drawn carriages receding along serpentine roads that seduce the eye to follow into the green pastoral abyss.
What we get from the Austrian painter Walter Strobl is an expansion of tin, cement walls and cell towers that stand court, take up and almost hold
hostage the viewers perspective denying these rooftop landscapes their principle accompaniment of “Vanilla Skies” with bellowing cumulous
clouds or the sedation of rustic ochers, transparent layers of ultra marines and rich sienna’s that would otherwise cajole the serenity of the
|"Alexander Viscio Presents"
The Painting's of Austrian Artist
Air-duck systems, TV antennas and elevator shafts upstage institutional assignments of place and sky. In an aggressive logic of composition
and juxtaposing light and shadow, Walter stacks weight proportions and spatial relationships in his inner city terrain with a Constructivists’ watch
and uses line to cut into how the eye reads the surface.
Barren and desolate in an almost defiant way Vienna’s infrastructure is depicted in elongated planes that lacerate the picture field into lateral
vortexes. The bulkiness of form bullies us into being sensitive to the defused and muted light that bounces off the surfaces, light that stands in
for the atmosphere that was confiscated and is now implied for the sake of composition and balance and rendered into an ensemble of
geometric abstraction. Melancholy shrieks the absence of life despite the sparse hints of human presence such as graffiti, satellite dishes and
hand railings that are now archetype of the urban landscape above street level and answers the “missing” question in a cynical but terribly
One plate in this article is upside down illustrating an inverted visual thrust in the opposite direction the eye takes when it’s up right. Its cement
structures shored up and stabilized by the painters’ vigorous handling of the water current in the Donau Canal are now dwarfed to the bottom
of the picture plane, anchored beneath a turbulent sky that can save or doom those beneath its’ canopy, turning into a convoluted (thanks to
my lack of delicacy) rooftop panorama at dusk.
It’s a disquieting freshness to see an Austrian painter on the younger side of forty remove the veneer of convention given the entrenchment of
Viennese painters in Art History. And considering their approach to the landscape and how it was eulogized, Walter Strobl is the bleach to the
“Friendly Yellow” that comes off as an ineffective disinfectant to 21 century Vienna.