Gerlind Zeilner is interested in the tensions and ambiguities within painting, including pictorial ideas shaped by a male-dominated art history that tends to the clichéd. In her structural significant and therein fragile, broken virtuosity, Zeilner works on figurative-abstract pictorial spaces full of critical and colorful suggestions about the existence of a female painter among male painters—of women among men. In convivial scenes of togetherness and shared experience in fictional Western and real artists’ bars, mostly heroic and overwhelmingly male gestures are called into question, in ways ranging from critical to humorous, by means of a special arrangement of color and forms and refreshing recast, for example, by engaging with paintings of bars in the work of the likes of Nicole Eisenman, Jörg Immendorff, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
In her more recent works, Zeilner has increasingly turned to questions of painting and its relationship to drawing, since sketches often precede the paintings as drafts but also represent an autonomous and hence essential, substantial part of her oeuvre. Addressing the history of painting, its techniques, and its readings always plays a role in this, and she offers a very personal, specific answer to that. She extends this reflection to her own position as an artist, whether in her "Studio Pictures" in her immediate workplace or in impressions of urban scenes and architecture obtained while strolling that she assimilates subsequently, or in her "Interior Pictures," which feature a perception that oscillates between real, fantastic, and psychological elements.
In this process, Zeilner adroitly plays with a kind of temporariness and incompleteness, for which the New York writer Raphael Rubinstein has proposed the apt term “provisional painting.” These astonishingly opulent and sensitive experiments and rifts seem to be connected to the sketch-like quality and unbridled potential of drawing that often precedes her painting and has an essential influence on its production. The results of her current working process are self-confidently and autonomous developed paintings that lend brilliance to the fragility of painting in complex times.
The Verlag für moderne Kunst is publishing an extensive bilingual catalog designed by Thomas Kussin, with numerous illustrations of her current painting and drawing as well as informative texts by Jurriaan Benschop, Sandro Droschl, Denise Milstein, and Thomas Raab.
Gerlind Zeilner (b. 1971 Mödling, lives in Vienna) studied painting and graphic art with Gunter Damisch at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna and took over as head of life drawing there in 2017. Zeilner has had numerous exhibitions and been awarded the Würdigungspreis of the Austrian Ministry of Research and Art (1998), the Georg Eisler Preis (2005), and the Anton-Faistauer-Preis (2008). This is her largest solo presentation thus far, and it will continue in December 2020 at Kunst im Traklhaus in Salzburg.