Josef Florian Krichbaum

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franzobel

Franzobel
© Harald Krichel 2013

 

Franzobel 2014: Heavy Metal Biedermeier

On the surface, the paintings of Josef Florian Krichbaum, created in oil and egg tempera in the manner of the old masters, appear harmless, romantic, almost idyllic, kitschy. But the closer you look, the more sinister the scenarios become. Suddenly there are holes in the ground, chasms, wild or only seemingly tamed nature, crippled trees, eroded rock piles, fog-shrouded woods, collapsed walls. 

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And also the people portrayed are anything but pleasant; they have drawn knives, a slavering expression or are anonymised by strange caps from which two stakes laterally protrude. In the romantic village scenes, the viewer beholds satellite dishes or billboards; the beautiful women mostly have tattoos and even the children look somehow offended or vicious, provided they, too, aren’t wearing strange light bulb bags covering their entire face. Under the lurching figure of a station master, appears an escaped convict; in the seemingly charming ice skating atmosphere, pigs lounge.
The paintings of Krichbaum, who, not without irony, calls himself JFK, are genre pictures of a society committed to mercantilism, without such mercantilism being explicitly condemned. They are emotional states of lonely, sad people, which, interestingly, become most tangible in the group representations, in which each individual is very much by himself or herself, despite the seeming proximity, there is no togetherness, only coexistence. The figures usually gaze out into the distance or directly at the viewer – as though hoping the latter will bring them salvation or at least understanding.
In Austria, everyone is a monolith, an eccentric loner, their own island. Every communication, mostly limited to the exchange of false kindnesses or malicious allegations, is doomed to failure. The landscape is marred by urban sprawl and scattered urbanisation, defaced by land speculators, greedy mayors and supermarkets. The final values, defended by the petty fire of inquisition, scarcely offer any more stability. As a result, people stand on thin, brittle ice, which can also be seen in Krichbaum’s pictures. At first, the viewer believes himself or herself in a Renaissance landscape, which on closer inspection, however, turns out to be quite present-day. All at once, there are radios, antennas, walking poles. But always only in an unobtrusive way. The viewer encounters no cars, no skyscrapers or high voltage lines; the scenarios JFK leads us into are more of a post-apocalyptic kind.
And these strange staked caps keep cropping up, slightly reminiscent of Don Quixote or brainwashing helmets. Krichbaum himself calls them guardians and is unwilling to reveal whether they signify a menace or protection. He dreamt them and they have increasingly found their way into his art ever since. Caps covering the eyes and nose, that have something of feelers and antennas about them and that are also evocative of virtual worlds and the Google glasses. Perhaps these guardians are complete solipsists, autists, living only in their own world? Aren’t we all wearing caps like them, making us think only of our careers and work? Caps stretching out feelers for recognition, while also keeping the world at bay? Or are they self-portraits of the painter, going through life with a paintbrush sticking out on either side of his head?
Krichbaum’s pictures are in opposition to the zeitgeist – not just in content but also in form. He is not one of the young realists courted by gallery owners, who paint from photos in order to reproduce a photo reality that we now consider the only real deal, because we know it from the media, but not from nature itself. His pictures originate from sketches or spring from the mind, thus creating a completely different reality that appears unfamiliar at first, but is nonetheless no less true.
Krichbaum does not submit to fashions or conform to any contemporary trends; he does not curry favour with or contort himself to please the art scene. He pays dearly for this; he is considered unfashionable; so far wealth has escaped him, the media and scene gurus refuse to recognize his significance, the major art exhibitions take place without him. And yet, the perseverance and honing of his style are already notable. He is the painter of a society that has become quintessentially Biedermeier, that refuses to refer to its retreat into the private sphere as such. Perhaps this is why the time is not yet ripe for a Krichbaum wave, which is sure to come one day, because he is after all, the new Carl Spitzweg – with the exception of his humour being deeper and harder to comprehend. For after all, who can tell what the letters HFGH that a lady wears on her T-shirt stand for? Fold hands, shut trap (Hände Falten, Gosche Halten).
And then there are details that cannot be rendered by reproductions. The ease with which he put down a branch in his last picture (Panopticon of little Incidents), or the sun-dappled lowering sky, show him for what he is: A great painter who succeeds deftly in capturing the Biedermeier of our time onto canvas. He accomplishes the feat of painting in a style at once ornamental and eminently political, in the manner of the old masters and yet remaining very present-day. Chapeau – even if it’s only a stake cap.

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dutz

Mag. phil Elisabeth Dutz Österreichische Nationalbank, Wien

 

Mag. Elisabeth Dutz 2014: The magic realism of Josef Florian Krichbaum

I have been following the work of Josef Florian Krichbaum with great pleasure for many years. He is one of the few artists of our time to use the technique of the old masters and invent poetic visual narratives. While initially creating mostly small-format pictures, the artist now also tackles large formats with an equal measure of quality and narrative density, reminiscent of Franz Sedlacek and the Magic Realism of the New Objectivity.

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The meticulous care he dedicates to even the preparation of support bases, is unusual in this day and age. With the same meticulousness and a special eye for details, marvellous pictures are created, magically attracting the observer, even drawing the viewer into them. The paintings are strangely peculiar, moving in a type of parallel world. These pictures cannot be absorbed fleetingly, in passing; on the contrary, one must look closely indeed to tap the fantastic world: in it, the most multifarious characters cavort, both human and superhuman in nature, mostly in groups, in fantastic landscapes. Guardians, meant to watch over nature and the people, stagger – only too human – drunk out of a city gate. Without further ado, the Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault is turned into a sleigh ride in the snow. But where is the ride going? It is not only a pleasure ride, for after all, the sleigh carries packed carpets, clothes, books, and food. And who would ever fly flags on a sled?
The artist’s joy in depicting absurd situations, exaggerated postures and unusual perspectives makes itself felt. But behind the amusement the pictures so fundamentally emanate, lies the artist’s critical view of nature, society and the manner in which we interact with each other. This is what he desires to show us, by means of a fine brush and quiet tones. Let’s look with him!

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franzobel

Franzobel
© Harald Krichel 2013

 

Franzobel 2008: “An Austrian Frida Kahlo” – Josef Krichbaum’s Pictures

“Krichbaum was the name of one of the strictest teachers at my school—a hard-ass, we used to say—whose favorite topic was the iron-carbon diagram, Krichbaum was the name of a girl in my class (no relation) who was in love with me, and it was also the name of one of my first girlfriends, the daughter of the hard-assed teacher. I had a neighbor named Krichbaum as well. The name Krichbaum has pursued me all my life, serving as a source of constant fascination,

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especially since it must be read as an imperative (kriech = creep, Baum = tree) if it is not to be oxymoronic. Trees are rooted in the earth, so they can hardly go creeping off somewhere, can they? Or do you think they might creep about secretly at night like wooden Peripatetics and swap places? Perhaps it isn’t only sand dunes that are mobile, perhaps trees move around as well. Creep-trees? Might it be that trees stand still only when you’re looking at them but spend the rest of the time in motion?
All the Krichbaums of my acquaintance are gnarly, burly individuals. I don’t know Josef Krichbaum personally, but I know his pictures, and I am convinced that a person’s name says a lot about him, like a skin one spends a lifetime growing into. Josef Krichbaum spells his name without an e, it must have slipped out the door and run away, leaving behind a name that sounds rather like a transcription of the Northern German “Krieg-Baum” (war tree), which suggests something martial, though it might also inspire hopeful thoughts of tree planting ceremonies. But perhaps it was just that the pen of some scribe in the age of Franz Joseph slipped while recording the more charming name Kirchbaum (cherry tree)? Krichbaum is a name that strikes me as appropriate precisely because it is so disorienting, it forces you to take a second look to confirm the missing e, eliminating all thoughts of creeping things, while at the same time leaving us to enjoy the fruits of the vowel shift.
Josef Krichbaum’s pictures, then, are pictures that could have been painted only by a Krichbaum. They are firmly rooted in solid painterly technique that reminds me of the realist painters of Eastern European countries. They show us rural themes, motifs from bygone days, from some other century, little scenes that at first might make an enchanting impression, ostensibly telling tales set in some remote village. But when you keep looking, the idyll suddenly creeps out of sight. The doughnut eaters, for example, have something aggressive, even violent about them; the two “proper persons” seem to radiate a certain ominousness difficult to pin down; and the couple in the vista—I can’t tell if they’re seated on a rooftop or just a road somewhere—suggest an equal measure of enjoyment and discord.
Art, as I prefer to define it for myself, can be seen as a work when it can be profitably encountered again and again (whether aesthetically or cognitively), in other words when its meaning is not fully revealed on first viewing. In this sense, Josef Krichbaum’s pictures are art, at least most of them. I don’t yet understand them. They’re well-painted but strange, says my nine-year-old son, and I think he’s right. These pictures are humorous, but they aren’t caricatures, there is something perfect and classical about them, yet they are also rough, open, almost dilettantish. There’s an atmosphere I can somehow associate with them but can’t put my finger on. Their use of symbolism, it seems to me, is just a pretense, a façade that lets them underhandedly sneak up on the viewer from behind.
And even though their style suggests naïveté, these pictures are anything but naïve. They uncover the caves and ravines of the soul, states of being. These pictures remind me of South American painters and a much earthier and more honest sort of fantastic realism than the version marketed to death by the Vienna School. In Josef Krichbaum’s pictures I can see the uptightness and inhibition of Austria’s rural population, and although there is no blood spilled in these pictures and no one is being worked over with instruments of torture, you can sense the internal damage of the people portrayed here, the enormity of the slights and acts of spitefulness they have suffered, the entire palette from the grumblings of the reclusive troll to the joys of digging around in one’s nose with pudgy, glistening fingers until the jam squirts out. In this respect, Krichbaum seems to me the contemporary Austrian form of the revered Frida Kahlo, who, by the way, doesn’t have an e in her name either.”
(translated by Susan Bernofsky)

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Käppl

Volkmar Käppl
© Franz Johann Morgenbesser

 

Volkmar Käppl 2002: “An illustrious society” The picture world of Josef Florian Krichbaum

“People play a role, probably the most important role, in our lives. They enter the stage and the  performance begins. Just like in theatre. The roles are varied. They often change within instants. Everyone plays several roles. Theatre or everyday life? The most incredible scenes of the human species’ drama often occur in everyday life. As if they were managed by an invisible director.

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Painter Josef Krichbaum captures characteristic moments. He offers us insights into the human soul. Highly perceptive, the artist conveys feelings and sentiments in a variety of hues. Krichbaum lets (?)us look behind the masks of his actors. Their disguises are at the same time utterly revealing.
Krichbaum observes society. It both fascinates and moves him. In his picture world, the artist reflects upon society – observed and experienced through his own world. In a profound, time-critical, sometimes stubborn, and mostly also playful manner. Through parables of society he presents things noted and noteworthy – just like on stage. He reveales role behaviors and rituals. The relationship between man and woman seemes both inexhaustible and unfathomable. A timeless topic depicted in timelessly thought-provoking pictures.
The beholder is confronted with stories. Highly detailed and imaginative – just like the style of the pictures. With fine craftsmanship, the artist leads us into his picture world of narrative realism. His paintings are not merely intended to generate a sensuos experience of colours. They also animate the observer to think about the illustrious society in our everyday life. Everyday life or theatre? The boundaries are blurred. Just like in real life.”

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Hutter

Wolfgang Hutter
© Die Presse/Michaela Seidler, für AEIOU

 

Wolfgang Hutter 1999: Zu den Bildern des Malers Josef Florian Krichbaum

Es ist in den vergangenen Jahren selten geworden, daß ein Maler auftaucht, der wirkliche Bilder malt.
Bilder, welche nicht die Welt unseres optischen Alphabets verlassen. Bilder, in denen ein Mensch ein Mensch bleibt, Gemaltes aus unserer Umgebung kommt.

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Der Sessel noch ein Stuhl bleibt und der Mund noch immer in der Mitte des Gesichts bleibt. Zu diesem Rüstzeug kommt nun die Phantasie des Malers Krichbaum dazu. Auch dazu ein feiner, spitzer Pinsel, ein Auge wie ein Vergrößerungsglas und eine warme Palette der Farbigkeit.
In diesen nie sehr großen Bildern erzählt ein malerischer Poet seine Bildgeschichte. Kuriose und witzige Ereignisse schauen uns aus diesen Bildern an.
Diese Erzählbilder, in feinster, malerischer Technik ausgeführt, werden sicher ihre Liebhaber finden. Allen diesen Werken wohnt eine gewisse Überlebensmöglichkeit bei. Auch später wird man in diesen Bildern noch lesen können, ohne eines Interpreten zu bedürfen. Man kann als Beschauer dieser Kunst dem Maler Krichbaum nur wünschen, noch lange und phantasievoll zu arbeiten und dadurch dem Freund der malerischen Kunst Ergötzliches zu bieten.
Dieses wünscht der ebenso malende Wolfgang Hutter

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Newspaper reports / messages (excerpts)

(german)

11_2014

Franzobel, JF Krichbaum und Bürgermeisterin Rosemarie Schönpass
© Rundschau.com

Bezirksrundschau November 2014: “Die Rückkehr der Wächter” im Brecher Buchleiten

AMPFLWANG. Der in Ampflwang und Wien lebende Maler Josef Florian Krichbaum eröffnete am vergangenen Samstag seine Ausstellung “Die Rückkehr der Wächter” im Brecher Buchleiten. Für die Eröffnungsrede konnte Krichbaum den bekannten, aus Pichlwang stammenden Schriftsteller Franzobel gewinnen.

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Die 70 bis zu zwei Meter großen Werke sind noch bis 29. November täglich außer Montag im ehemaligen Kohlebrecher zu sehen.
Fotos auf: http://www.meinbezirk.at/voecklabruck/leute/die-rueckkehr-der-waechter-im-brecher-buchleiten-d1155239.html

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OÖ Nachrichten

OÖ Nachrichten November 2014: “Die Leinwand als Bühne für gebrochene Idyllen”

Eine Ausstellung in Ampflwang zeigt Josef Florian Krichbaums verstörend-skurrile Bildwelten.
Josef Florian Krichbaums Bilder sind verstörend. In altmeisterlicher Technik gemalt, ziehen sie den Betrachter in ihren Bann, die teils kitschig-karikaturesken Motive lassen einen erschaudern.

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Er wolle durchaus provozieren, wie Krichbaum im Gespräch mit den OÖNachrichten zugibt.Er male idyllische Szenen, um diese dann zu brechen, das reize ihn. Als künstlerische Vorbilder nennt der in Wien lebende Oberösterreicher neben seinen Akademie-Professoren Wolfgang Hutter und Wolfgang Herzig auch David Lynch und die Karikaturisten Gerhard Haderer und Manfred Deix. Und tatsächlich verarbeitet er, ähnlich wie die beiden satirischen Zeichner, ganz “österreichische” Themen in seiner Malerei. Da isst etwa ein dubioser Mann in Lederhosen mitten im Wald eine Schnitzelsemmel (“Unterholz Imbiss”, Öl/Eitempera/Tafel, 2010) oder es marschieren Musikanten mit irren Blicken durch ein Feld (“Mit Pauken und Trompeten”, Öl/Eitempera/Tafel, 2010).
Er verstehe seine Bilder als Theaterbühne, auf der er Geschichten erzählen kann. Krichbaums skurrile Bild-Erzählungen sind nun in einer Ausstellung im Kohlebrecher Buchleiten in Ampflwang zu sehen.

Ausstellung “Die Rückkehr der Wächter”: bis 29.11. täglich außer Mo, 15 bis 19 Uhr, Kohlebrecher Buchleiten, Ampflwang
Link zum Artikel: http://www.nachrichten.at/nachrichten/kultur/Die-Leinwand-als-Buehne-fuer-gebrochene-Idyllen;art16,1542491

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videostill2013

​ Videostill
© kunstohnegrenzen.at

Bezirksrundschau Jänner 2013: “Willkommen in Skurrilistan”

“TRAUN (ros). Märchenhaft skurril sind die phantastischen Werke von Josef Florian Krichbaum, der seine eigene Wiener Schule begründet hat und sich den altmeisterlichen Techniken bedient.Seine Lehrer an der Hochschule für angewandte Kunst in Wien waren Wolfgang Hutter und Wolfgang Herzig.

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Heute lebt er als freischaffender Künstler in Wien und Oberösterreich.
Groteske Figuren, scheinbar sinnlose Szenerien, romantisch-realistische Landschaften und eine speziell bei den sehr kleinen Formaten äußert feine Pinselführung kennzeichnen seine Bilder. Sein künstlerisches Schaffen zeigt Einflüsse von Comic Art, Phantastischem Realismus aber auch Street- und Pop-Art. Fern von Trends entwickelt Josef Florian Krichbaum unbeirrt seinen ganz eigenen Stil und wird zur Ausnahmeerscheinung am österreichischen Kunstmarkt. Direkt aus dem “Egon Schiele Art Centrum” aus Krumau kommt die Ausstellung in die Galerie der Stadt Traun. Eröffnet wird sie am Mittwoch, den 6.Februar um 19 Uhr. Besichtigen kann man die Werke bis 3. März.”
Video zur Ausstellung vom Verein Kunst ohne Grenzen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiuFCzkc6JM

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Radio /TV

Ö1 Leporello

Ö1 Leporello

 

Ö1 – Leporello “Geschichten der Gegenwart”, 2010

hier zum Nachhören

Wakeup Orange

Radio Orange 94.0

 

Radio Orange “Wake Up with stuard & paul” ZU GAST, 2007: JOSEF KRICHBAUM

hier zum Nachhören

kultur heute

ORF OÖ Heute

 

ORF – Maler Josef Florian Krichbaum im Portrait
2.12.2014

 

kultur heute

ORF OÖ Heute

 

ORF – Oberösterreich Heute
19.2.2013