Hermann Nitsch Rises Again…

…and this time keeps the blood and guts to a minimal.

Best-known throughout Europe for his bizarre and gruesome performance pieces involving the slaughter and dissection of live animals and carcasses, as well as the founding of the Orgien Mysterien Theater, Viennese action painter/performance artist, Hermann Nitsch, is back in New York for the first time in over a decade. However, instead of using bodily fluids as medium, Nitsch paints with hand-mixed pigments, exploring the dimensions of light and color while alluding to themes addressed in earlier works.

Nitsch’s art can be seen as both ritualistic and existential in nature, and first garnered attention in the early 1960s when he exhibited a skinned and mutilated lamb crucified against a white fabric-covered wall.  Nitsch juxtaposed slaughtered animal intestines with pseudo-religious icons such as staged crucifixions satirizing and questioning the moral ethics of religion and sacrifice. Currently his work is often discussed in the context of our culture’s fixation with violence in the news, movies, and in popular video games.

Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, February 15 and 16, 2011, Nitsch took over Mike Weiss Gallery for a two day long live action painting performance. Nitsch’s show at the gallery opened on Saturday night and will run through March 19, 2011. While the action will be over, the aftermath (his paintings created on-site) is definitely worth the trip. As is the video showing some of Nitsch’s earlier work, where blood and guts are most definitely on view, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Hermann Nitsch: 60. Painting Action // 60. Malaktion at Mike Weiss Gallery (520 West 24th Street, NYC 10011).

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