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‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’ – that is what art does. Phyllis Novak

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Navratil, Walter - by Jonathan Evens

Walter Navratil: Beyond the Power of Words

by Jonathan Evens
 
 
Austrian artist Walter Navratil (1950-2003) was, in the words of Hans Dichand, “not a programmatic artist, but one whose effectiveness as a painter derives from the formal power inherent in his ideas.” These ideas included, as Dr Agnes von der Borch has noted, “the soul and philosophical speculation” which are the actual subjects, even of his paintings “that seem on the surface to be realistic.” As Kay Heymer noted in the catalogue to his 1998 exhibition at the BAWAG Foundation, “Navratil’s depicted objects are not what they seem to be. Owing to their composition and their more or less ordinary details, the sense of security of the observer is undermined.” The soulful and philosophical subjects tackled by Navratil include boundaries, communication, death, dreams, imprisonment, masks, suffering, and visions. In the paintings with specifically Christian content, von der Borch notes “we find saints, the crucified Christ, and written profession of faith.”