Current Exhibitions



Jenny Watson and Sophie Dvořák


Vernissage: Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 7—9pm

On the Exhibition: Watson: Hannah Stegmayer, Author and Artist / Dvořák: Melissa Lumbroso, Albertina

Duration: until February 9, 2019






Jenny Watson, born 1951 in Melbourne and one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists, represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1993.

She works with multi-part installations of painting, text, and sculpture. In her creations, she develops complex stories that have a feminist and socially critical bent while also allowing deep personal insight into her life. Her art explicitly addresses issues of female identity, with a boundary between autobiographical insight and fictitious findings that is deliberately unclear. Text and image do not necessarily align. 

In 2017, a large retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney demonstrated the wide range of her work and its origins in conceptual art and the early punk movement. 

The Galerie Straihammer und Seidenschwann is pleased to represent this internationally active artist in Austria. 

Australian artist Jenny Watson (born 1951) came to the attention of a broad international public in 1993, when she represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. The head of the biennial, Achille Bonito Oliva, recognized the resounding combination of fiction and autobiography and expressed fascination with Watson’s artistic self-reflection, which claimed an autonomous position within the contemporary art scene.

The full installation she showed at the Biennale, Paintings with Veils and False Tails, consisted of canvas paintings with narrative drawings, panels with journal-like writings, and three-dimensional objects, namely ponytails and cloth bows. These attributes complemented one another to create typically feminine themes and the urge to identify the artist with them. After all, she is a dressage rider and breeds horses — a theme that recurs throughout her work, not only in this cycle. Several of the accompanying texts are written in the first person (“I feel like when my father used to dry my hair”) or focus on the artworks and their environment (“This painting is in the process of becoming important”). It is not unreasonable to assume a sexual allusion in the first case and ironic self-reflection in the second. The entire installation was impressive, intimate and sublime at once, and seemed to either reveal or at least comprehensively construct a psychological portrait of an individual. The viewer was overwhelmed and pulled into a strange space of intimacy.

However, anyone trying to nail Watson down about this narrative structure would have been disappointed. The connections between the texts and the images were only approximate: the paintings did not illustrate the text, and the text did not explain the images. Watson’s writings and images differ as much as possible from each other, making a palpable separation of the mental and visual apparatuses. The range of possible interpretations becomes an essential aspect of the work. Through their own personal interpretation, the observer experiences as much about themself as about the artist, becoming part of a psychoanalytic experiment, so to speak. At this point, it becomes clear that the artist is illustrating the process of interpretation. She invites the observer to interpret in sophisticated ways, scattering clues throughout different layers of drawing, providing complex and structured spaces for thought, and thus intervening to organize the observer’s experience.

The work, then, no longer reveals itself; it represents an elaborate form of conceptual painting, whose creator is participating in the current theoretical debate.

Jenny Watson’s work combines skillful, unembellished drawing with concise painted representations. Her imagery makes complex issues impressively visible, with image ideas that are coherent and metaphors reduced to the essentials.

Galerie Straihammer und Seidenschwann is showing her latest works, created during a stay in Japan in 2018.


1951  Born Melbourne, Australia.  

1972  Diploma of Painting, National Gallery of Victoria Art School, Melbourne  

1973  Diploma of Education, State College of Victoria, Melbourne  

1978-84  Partner in Art Projects, Melbourne  


Watson staged her first solo exhibition in 1973 and has since presented 60 solo exhibitions in Australia and 50 solo exhibitions in Europe, Asia, India, New Zealand and the United States.

In summer 2018 her work was shown in a solo-show – Jenny Watson. The fabric of fantasy- at the MCA Australia in Sydney.

Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions and is represented in state, corporate and private collections throughout Australia and overseas. 

Watson currently divides her time between Brisbane Australia and Europe



ohne Titel, 2018,
Acryl on fabric




Exhibition View, Gallery Straihammer und Seidenschwann,  2018





Drawings and collages


Sophie Dvořák is a collector and traveler. She gathers images, books, and found objects; she assembles, categorizes, archives, re-archives, and displays these artifacts and fragments with seemingly archeological methodology. In her own words, hers is a “subjective research process” leading to works that achieve an intricate balance between the precision of her craft and subject matter on the one hand, and the intuitive process on the other.

How fitting that cartography should feature so prominently in Dvořák’s ongoing survey of visualizations of knowledge. The map is a surface of projection and signs. In his essay “My Atlas”, Vilém Flusser compellingly plots the challenges of a map projection that cannot be complete nor without distortion. He tells of the shift of the atlas as a product of representation towards itself becoming an activity of representing: “Not history, but the act of visually transcoding history, became interesting.”  The map’s limitations as well as its involvement in constructing knowledge and history form the starting points from which many of Dvořák’s endeavors begin their journey.

In her recent group of works, “All Lakes are Temporary” (2018), Sophie Dvořák meddles anew with cartographic projections. Topographic maps outlining the terrain of various lake basins are excised from their context and reassembled. The flowing contours of the cut-out formations counteract the cliché of the placid lake, at times veritably dancing on a background of paper that has been saturated with black ink. Yet in other pieces from this series, the deep velvety black unfurls or radiates from these newly construed abstractions of the lake, appearing as a shadow. The title of the series alludes not only to the lifespan of a lake but to the map’s instability, its inability to ever be absolutely current.

Dvořák seizes upon the opportunity offered by the potency of the map being, as Christine Buci-Glucksmann identifies, “immediately both visible and readable”: We see and instantly read the appropriated cartographic elements and then attempt to get a grasp on the sense of scale or to orient ourselves at the “interface of the world”, only to find we have been duped. The artist has emptied the map of its decipherable codes. The only memory of its legends and labels is the mask of black in place of the gaps in information. With this ruse, Dvořák catalyzes a reflection about our gullibility with regard to the authority and authenticity of visualizations of information. 

In a continuation of her yearlong engagement with atlases and maps, Dvořák translates projections of the two-dimensional plane to three-dimensional space in recent plaster reliefs. Cartographic material is manipulated and pressed into wet plaster indelibly embedding fragments of the maps as fossils. Dvořák experiments with plaster and black ink producing objects with fragile geographical surfaces. Fissures, craters and hollows are created during the transformation of map (Landkarte) to landscape (Landschaft). The planned coincidence at work in this series is likewise essential to “Glitches” (since 2016). For these drawings, the artist painstakingly traces a French curve line upon line with a quill. Droplets of ink become trapped between the instrument and the page. The smudges in these flawless seismographic recordings pay tribute to the irregular, the unpredictable, the imperfect.


Melissa Lumbroso




images left  
from the series “All Lakes Are Temporary” 
2018, Collage and ink on cardboard


images right 
Glitches, 2016, 35x25, Ink on Paper





Exhibition View, Gallery Straihammer und Seidenschwann,  2018




Vernissage: Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 7—9pm

On the Exhibition: Watson: Hannah Stegmayer, Author and Artist / Dvořák: Melissa Lumbroso, Albertina

Duration: until February 9, 2019