Galerie Frey, Vienna / Salzburg
Lambskin with dripping – or tear-like – mineral oil intarsia; gold-plated wood and inwrought thorns of roses or cockroaches; small scales of stone stamped into MDF or charcoal on wood – at the first sight, it seems irritating and fascinating at the same time to see seemingly heterogenic combination of materials in Johannes Domenig’s oeuvre. The observer looks for an aesthetic connection regarding the content, which evolves throughout the context of nature and moreover, asks for curiosity.
Since altercating with nature, artistic reflection has been formative through the question, if art completes nature or if nature appears to be art’s icon. Domenig detracts from this consideration, as if polarity has not taken place: the one is in a way the other. In another formal and subjective aspect of his work this becomes relevant: the dialectic of order and chaos, being one of the central themes (one of his works is called “Order of Existence”). The artistic discussion establishes second-degree order, based on forms of order of the chaotic.
The works with barks appear to be especially significant – their structure seems to follow the chaotic directives: “barks have developed to be the symbol, the emblem of nature in the dominant work groups and show themselves striped which seems to be equal to bar codes,” says the artist. This multi-faceted “refinement of material” of barks through gold, silver, mineral oil and iron iconifies them in fusion of the organic and the inorganic to an artistic “Piece of Nature”, to an artistic “Nature Icon,” like the work itself is called.
The beauty of things in Johannes Domenig’s works almost detracts the artistic ambivalence: Iron is not only material of protection but is capable to transform – solute – into toxic heavy metal; without mineral oil our industrial and technological world would not be possible, although it destroys human and animal life every now and then at the same time; gold-plated seeds of roses will not be able to blossom into botanic life! It is an artistic access, the artistic method, which detracts from the negative-positive dialectic, how Johannes Domenig demonstrates vividly.