15.7. - 2.9.

GONN MOSNY

Gonn Mosny, LW 226, 200cm x 140cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 207, 200 cm x 170 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 213, 200 cm x 165 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 199, 200 cm x 149 cm, 2015, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 210, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 223, 200cm x 150cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, 2017, LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 211, 200 cm x 130 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, 2016, LW 214 200 cm x 150 cm, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, LW 224, 200 cm x 160 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Kerstin Mosny

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 213, 200 cm x 165 cm, 2016 / LW 199, 200 cm x 149 cm, 2015 / LW 210, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2016 / LW 223, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016 / LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 210, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2016 / LW 223, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016 / LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 211, 200 cm x 130 cm, 2016 / LW 214, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 207, 200 cm x 170 cm, 2016 / LW 213, 200 cm x 165 cm, 2016 / LW 199, 200 cm x 149 cm, 2015 / LW 210, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2016 / LW 223, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 211, 200 cm x 130 cm, 2016 / LW 214, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016 / LW 237 200 cm x 216 cm, 2017 / LW 226, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Foto: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 207, 200 cm x 170 cm, 2016 / LW 213, 200 cm x 165 cm, 2016, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 211, 200 cm x 130 cm, 2016 / LW 214, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016 / LW 237, 200 cm x 216 cm, 2017 / LW 226, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. LTR: Gonn Mosny, LW 207, 200 cm x 170 cm, 2016 / LW 213, 200 cm x 165 cm, 2016 / LW 199, 200 cm x 149 cm, 2015 / LW 210, 200 cm x 140 cm, 2016 / LW 223, 200 cm x 150 cm, 2016 / LW 236, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017 / LW 235, 200 cm x 215 cm, 2017, courtesy by the artist and Volker Diehl Gallery. Photo: Verena Nagl

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. Photo: Verena Nagl.

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. Photo: Verena Nagl.

Gonn Mosny, exhibition view, 2017. Photo: Verena Nagl.

LTR.: The book of Eugen Herrigel "Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschießens" (Zen in the Art of Archery) from 1948 has influenced Mosny in his perception of art. The artist’s studio and home in Vahingen, Stuttgart, designed and built by himself in 1960. Photo: Verena Nagl.

Mosny hallmarked a taoist quote on metal plates in three different languages (Ger., Engl., Fr.), originated in the mid-1980s for the studio in Gordes, southern France. Photo: Verena Nagl.

Handwritten memo from Willi Baumeister, to confirm Gonn Mosny’s (formerly named Eckhart) admission to his class. Photo: Verena Nagl.

LTR: Willi Baumeister’s book "Das Unbekannte in der Kunst" (The Unknown in Art) from 1947. Baumeister signed a preannouncement to his exhibition in the Gallery Gerd Rosen, Berlin, in Nov. 1946. Photo: Verena Nagl.

„He produces without
appropriating,
he acts
and expects nothing,
having accomplished
his work,
he remains unattached,
and since he is unattached,
his work will remain.“

BOOK OF TAO
(The Book of Tao is quoted by Gonn Mosny
as a reference to his work, see metal plate in the showcase)



The painting that forms part of Gonn Mosny’s artistic oeuvre is not representational and an expression of his idea of metaphysics. The artist, born in Hamburg in 1930, who has been living in Tyrol since 2005, is one of the last surviving students of Willi Baumeister. He was admitted to Baumeister’s master class at the Stuttgart Art Academy in 1952 and thenceforth intensively studied his teacher’s concept of painting until the latter’s death in 1955. Mosny, throughout his life, has been influenced by Baumeister’s special image concept, which completely liberated itself from any artistic impulse through a spiritual approach and re-defined the painting practice in the spirit of Zen Buddhism. Baumeister, in 1947, published the book Das Unbekannte in der Kunst (The Unknown in Art), where he points towards the affinity between the unknown and the forces of nature. In his opinion, the creation of a work of art surmounts the capabilities of humans and is part of the natural processes. Also an important influence, in shaping Gonn Mosny’s artistic outlook has been Eugen Herrigel’s book Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschießens (Zen in the Art of Archery), published in 1948.

Our thanks go to the Mosny family for supporting the exhibition.
curated by Karin Pernegger, Kunstraum Innsbruck

For the interview (in German language) with Gonn Mosny together with Karin Pernegger on Radio Freirad click here

LAUDATIO BY MARK GISBOURNE
ON THE WORK OF GONN MOSNY

When I think of it as of the here and now, it is nearly thirty years ago since I prepared a written essay for the book publication entitled GONN MOSNY Atmen and Malen (Kohlhammer Verlag, 1989). I fully realise in retrospect that I was merely at the beginning of what has become lifelong association and intimate friendship, and by extension to experience a sensory immersion in the paintings produced by this artist. And I use the word immersion significantly

not just

to suggest that of a mere mental state of involvement, but in a far more meaningful and affective level of transforming immanence. For the immanent is that which is innate and inherent to one’s sense of continuous day to day being, it is what sustains us and is not something exterior to our lived experience. Gonn Mosny’s paintings are not therefore about a vague sense of something outside of ourselves. They are not about transcendence, something that has frequently been appended traditionally to informal abstract painting (pace Rothko). But rather they are about sensory human impulses and controlled phenomenal sensations as they relate to his own inner being. In Gonn Mosny’s case it is a life of expressive gestural moments of intensity, of creative expressions and simultaneous resistances, application and erasure, addition and subtraction, but ultimately a continual and yet highly personal search for an expressive language leading to a sense of creative resolution. This is why in the past so many of Mosny’s paintings have sometimes covered several years of painterly production before finding satisfaction and a necessary state of ‘re’ presentation.

As friends we first met in a neutral situation, an English art historian and a German painter in Provence, Gordes, Southern France (Mont Ventoux/Luberon Region), in the mid-1980s and we immediately became friends. As for myself at that time I was still working on my doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, having left religious life as a Franciscan Friar in 1981. And, perhaps, this is the reason I subsequently became so fascinated by Gonn Mosny’s own meditative and highly introspective approach to painting. At that time each summer I was teaching at the Ecole des Arts at Lacoste, in the nearby Luberon (the village of the Marquis de Sade, with its ruined chateau, and long time Surrealist associations) As a friend I got to know his family, his late wife Barbara, and his children Birte, Dierk und Kerstin, and at that time also the artist’s mother who lived in Hamburg (she died in her late 90s), the place of his birth. I am tempted to think she forms the genetic source of his own strength and active longevity as a creative artist, etc. This said his background as a lithographer in Hamburg (where a sense of graphism and colour emerged), and thereafter later his studies with Willi Baumeister at the Stuttgart Art Academy (1952-57), who no doubt shaped and inflected the philosophical expressive tendency in Mosny, one uniquely open to a meditative yet more structured approach. With Baumeister’s Das Unbekannte in der Kunst (The Unknown in Art, 1947, written, 1943-44), and his involvement with founding the artist group Gegenstandslose (The Group of Nonrepresentational Artists), and its first exhibition ZEN 49 in 1950, Baumeister defended new post-war forms of abstract art (First Darmstadt Dialogue, 1950). Mosny became immersed in Baumeister’s practices and procedures, and particularly touched by the contemporary interest and focus on Zen meditation. Since that time Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in der Kunst des Bogenschießens (Zen in the Art of Archery) has continued to influence the artist in terms of his inner stillness and creative preparedness. I also want to stress again the role of phenomenology and perception as being the essential philosophical concern of the 1950s (Husserl through to Merleau Ponty) The premise of which is ‘bracketing’ (‘epoche’) the world an essentially developing a deep state of introspection.

“And consequently, by the " art " of archery he does not mean the ability of the sportsman, which can be controlled, more or less,
by bodily exercises, but an ability whose origin is to be sought
in spiritual exercises and whose aim consists in hitting a
spiritual goal, so that fundamentally the marksman aims at himself and may even succeed in hitting himself.” (Zen in the Art of Archery, 1953 Part I)

And this is the reason why Atmen and Malen (Breathing and Painting) was the focus of the 1989 monograph and the title of my essay. The role of breathing and self-presence become the goal and the aim of a meditative contact with the inner life, the so-called “spiritual exercises.” With training it becomes an autonomous internal and personal language in itself, something I might address as an art historian as a language of the mark….not a STYLE, in the conventional art historical sense, but as a personal and autonomous language of mark making—if you like a vocabulary of the inner life. And it is this mark making language also that eventually becomes Mosny’s tool of self-realisation. And I use the word “tool” here in a Wittgenstein sense, for “like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.” Mosny had found his art language…and as much as he sought to express his inner affections, it was also and continues to be shaped by resistance, stages of application and denial. Speaking again through the text of Zen in the Art of Archery…

“…to use some expressions that are nearest the heart of the Masters, it is necessary for the archer to become, in spite of himself, an unmoved centre. Then comes the supreme and ultimate miracle: art becomes "artless", shooting becomes not−shooting, a shooting without bow and arrow; the teacher becomes a pupil again, the Master a beginner, the end a beginning, and the beginning perfection.” (Zen in the Art of Archery, 1953 Part I)

Whether as a lecturer or administrator (Director of the Pforzheim School of Fine and Decorative Arts, from 1964), or President of the National College of Design (from 1971-77) or whether simply through the interrupted work periods as a full-time practicing painter, the intellectual focus on the inner language of painting (mark making) has always been the central motivation of his creative life. That is notwithstanding the enormous amount of design work done for architectural commissions and public space in the years up to 1981, when he returned full time to painting drawing. Placed in this context we might consider the works in the current exhibition a summation of the continuously evolving language of Gonn Mosny’s daily practice. It represents his vocabulary of the mark, and the gained intuitive, but non-compositional processes, that forms the language of his art. It is non-compositional in the sense of surface and fine warp and weft canvas is pinned to the wall and becomes the artist’s field of play. And this is a characteristic aspect, since the artist’s use of precise materials (portrait linen, his use Rowney colours, prescribed drawing materials, etc), contrast with the inner spontaneity that is expressed in the works. It is as if extraneous distractions have to be removed in order to free the expressive self within. After the white canvases and gesso-ed field is prepared we journey into the elision of word and image, into text as image, image as text, and question of the ever variable boundaries between image, ideogram, pictogram, the number and the expressive mark. Mosny’s interest in scriptural letters, symbols and numbers came much to the fore in the early 1980s when he returned full time to painting. It is in this context that, as I called it at that time “the unfolding day” takes place, the pursuit and perception of letting go, of entering into the “being there”, into the personal dasein of inner process

“When you start working, everybody is in your studio-the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas-all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.” (John Cage)

And as we look at these paintings around here, some thirty years later, we become party to the extraordinary creative journey that has taken place. I spoke of Baumeister, and I have just quoted John Cage, both are important influences on Mosny, but there is a third and that is the late American-born, European-based artist Cy Twombly. Mosny as artist freely acknowledges his pictorial debt to the great American mark maker, someone who acts as a decisive influence perhaps upon what we see here today. Yet while I see and acknowledge this influence my own feelings are that the paintings of Mosny are less driven by the literary aspects of graphism, that is to say that are not influenced by the American artists’ mythological allusions and sense of narrative story telling, but rather by the painterly poesis of immediate presence. The word and idea poiesis comes from Plato’s Symposium "the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before.” Diotima the priestess describes how mortals strive for immortality in relation to poiesis. In all begetting and bringing forth upon the beautiful there is a kind of making/creating or poiesis. Or, to put it in more recent terms as Martin Heidegger refers to it “a bringing forth.” It is liminal state, a threshold, a moment of potential ecstasis (a removal to elsewhere, and altered state of consciousness) when something moves away from its standing as one thing to become another. When the common materials of art become the nature of art itself. It is the origin of poetry and therefore of the idea of a creative language. It is as the Roman Poet expressed

Ut pictura poesis

literally meaning "as is painting so is poetry." (Horace)

What is the painterly language of Mosny?
A mark may be defined in terms of an open-ended expressiveness, as a scribble, smudge, smear, smirch, spot, splodge, blob, blot, blotch, blur, dab, fleck, or a stain, in fact any mark that serves the descriptive visual language needed to achieve an onomatopoeic purpose through its visual realisation as lived and perceived experience. It represents the creative trajectory of this artist’s inner creative life. These are the fourfold polarities, a phenomenological path of introspection, the discipline of Zen, the prescience of immanence, and its subsequent material realisation of presence that are the paintings and drawings of Gonn Mosny. In his 88th year he remains extraordinarily productive, and he still retains the passionate creative endeavours that he has carried through his life. We witness an exceptional accomplishment. All we can do is be profoundly thankful for it.  

Mark Gisbourne
Curator Art Historian and Critic   

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