Exhibition at the bird pavilion in the Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg, APRIL 2009 -


Opening speech by City Councillor for Culture Dr. Anton Gugg


There are not that many events which have such a radically unsettling effect on the way we experience ourselves and the world, and on what we expect from art. A few people put on a new pair of glasses, as it were, in the 1960s in order to obtain a new world view. Today they are praised to high heaven as art and lifestyle legends. But at the time they were mere boys, bored to death of their dull lives as shop window decorators. The new aid to sharper vision and deeper insight was to have unprecedented consequences. It was supposed to filter out everything which art had obscured, clouded over and overshadowed up to that point, and which had become unfathomable for ordinary mortals. Personal expression, spirituality, transcendence, exclusiveness, supposed significance and all the other elitist stuff were all suddenly discarded on the junk heap of history. What had first started out as ideas hatched using the cheapest means available in the dingy underground scene rose very quickly to the exalted level of the top galleries and became a highly lucrative business. Its label bore three giant letters: POP. Pop art eventually emerged as the global hit of the post-war period and the years of recovery. Everyone understood it immediately. No longer was there any need for people to wrack their brains over cryptic subtleties. Some sober observers of today�s scene regard Warhol and his cohorts as the most effective gravediggers of art, but for others, and perhaps for the majority, the veritable paradise of barrier-free art accessibility really began with the cult of the superficial.


Ladies and gentlemen, Wolfgang Uranitsch is an artist who revives much of the dizzying atmosphere of development and experimentation which prevailed during that heady period, which was also marked by the desire to conquer and open up new fields. What was and continues to be opened up is the very near and the very far, the trivial and the exotic, popular and routine occurrences, as well as the fantastic and the inaccessible. And what appears to be mutually opposite and exclusive collapses in the so-called expansion of the mind. All this was practically a duty for the teenagers of the time � a period inseminated with chemical mind-openers, an era when books such as Burroughs� �Naked Lunch� were avidly devoured against the musical backdrop of hammering sounds delivered by Led Zeppelin. A whiff of these psychedelic adventures of the senses can be detected in the picture adventures which Uranitsch has created. Picture flashes from ethnic cultures on the margins of society, from southern, American and European urban jungles, from desolate industrial zones, from rain forests, highways and the pool of icons issued by the globalised entertainment generator derive their effect from the sophisticated technique of cleverly breaking down visual elements of pictures, of combining patterns and by means of spray deposits created from using different paints on metal backgrounds with different grades of corrosion. This elaborate �metal spray art� is the aesthetic corporate identity of Uranitsch the artist, and to a certain extent it stands in contrast to the aspect of content. The content, in fact, turns out to be a fleeting picture world that appears to pop up out of nothing, a world which the artist always feels drawn to and attracted by. Uranitsch is one of the pioneers of the comics� scene and was also a creative perpetrator in the genre of graffiti. As a completely separate order of the art community with its own laws, it enrages city fathers all over the world and this in turn only goes to provoke the image setters into further shiny and colourful activities. The logo legacy of many a street art star is worth more than gold nowadays. We hope, however, that the aviary here won�t become a target of the picture guerrilla, even though I must admit that we have experienced a number of small-scale aerosol exercises. We hope that that the sympathiser of subversive picture techniques will not awaken certain sleepers. For us it�s enough if we have the artistically domesticated version of wild, evergreen picture ideas that simply do not age. They simply cannot grow old and shrivelled � the Statue of Liberty, Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger and all the other megastars of the screen, the catwalk and the street, even if they�re rusting away like the Chevrolet or the Buick, those pubescent dream toys for boys. And of course what always attracts people is adventure. In Uranitsch�s case this tends to mean Jamaica. With Google Earth people have long been able to spy on all this right down to the last blade of grass. But it will never be as pleasurable as this sprayer demonstrates with such artistry, and yet with such nonchalance. Rarely has the spray can been emptied with such sophistication and empathy. You see, there really are old masters in this field. And Uranitsch is one of them.