Every now and then, a city full of international art gives us the chance to enjoy the imagination and skill of local artists whose mastery has become recognised well beyond the country’s borders. Like at the new Xenia Hausner exhibition at the Albertina.
- Full retrospective of Hausner’s paintings
- Focuses on her staging approach which contributes to the stand-out nature of her works
- Runs April 30 – Aug 8, 2021
- Just the usual museum entrance ticket required
- See also: Albertina visitor & tickets info
Hausner: True Lies
(Xenia Hausner; Adler und Engel, 2005; Courtesy Xenia Hausner © Bildrecht, Wien, 2019)
Vienna-born Hausner (b. 1951) began her professional artistic life in set design before shifting more toward painting at the beginning of the 1990s.
The two media combined in early 2020, for example, when Hausner’s solo exhibition at Berlin’s PalaisPopulaire complemented performances of The Rosenkavalier at the same city’s Staatsoper opera house; the new production by André Heller included set design by…Hausner.
Based on the photos I’ve seen, Klimt’s famous Beethovenfries wall painting dominates the backdrop to the opera’s second act, accentuating the Vienna connection. (Hausner also contributed artwork to Heller’s 2020 CD, Spätes Leuchten.)
The Albertina’s Xenia Hausner: True Lies exhibition offers a retrospective that begins with those early paintings and takes us through to her more recent works, such as the Exiles series.
The artist’s roots in stage design seem reflected in many of her creations, with montages and narratives constructed in the studio and then captured on canvas.
The Albertina describes this creative process as staging, something Hausner has herself explained as creating scenery and lighting like “a low-budget film set.” In an interview around the True Lies exhibition, she highlighted the importance of the inner process here:
It functions by means of moving forwards and backwards, through contradiction and questioning.
This creative approach also portrays “real” situations and experiences in purely subjective staged representations. This mixture of reality and staged art gives us the True Lies of the exhibition title.
Women tend to dominate the people featured in Hausner’s paintings, also assuming roles that might typically be played by a male protagonist.
In the above interview, Hausner noted:
Women are a pivotal element in my work. In my pictures they act as representatives of all genders….I process the human themes with a female cast.
(Hausner has played a pivotal role in supporting the much-needed work of Women Without Borders, where she sits on the board. The NGO “focuses on Female Leadership, Capacity Building, Gender Based Violence, Intercultural Dialogue, and Preventing Violent Extremism”.)
Quite apart from the themes and constructed scenes, the paintings immediately impress through their use of colour and the often stark facial expressions (the eyes hold the clue). The exhibition gives you a chance to grasp the genius of one of Austria’s most important contemporary painters.
Dates and tickets
Enjoy Hausner’s oeuvre from April 30th, 2021 to August 8th, 2021. A normal ticket* for the Albertina museum gets you into the exhibition. Alternatively, a Vienna Pass sightseeing ticket allows one-time free entry.
How to get to the exhibition
Pop over to the main Albertina article for directions. The Hausner exhibition occupies the lower floor (down the escalator on the left after you pass through ticket control).
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna