The gallery Smolka Contemporary, founded in 2013, is located in the first district of Vienna in the immediate vicinity of the State Opera, the Albertina and the Dorotheum auction house – thus in the heart of the cultural life of the capital of Austria.
The main artists the gallery works with include Uli Aigner, Hans Kupelwieser, Alois Mosbacher, Hubert Schmalix, Thomas Stimm, Manfred Wakolbinger and Uta Weber. It is predominantly the generation that gained notoriety under the label “Junge Wilde” in the 1980s and which, in contrast to the conceptual and performance art of the previous decade, favoured a new form of painting and sculpture: it was about an ideologically carefree abundance of imagery and narrative, in which materials, colours and shapes were at the center of expression. The young paintings of the 1980s arose in close connection with the musical punk movement of the time and, like them, questioned standardized bourgeois values and concepts of art. Smolka Contemporary sees the work with these artists, who have been established for decades, as long-term support, also at national and international fairs, through which individual paths of development, which have often moved far away from the original artistic impulse, are to be documented.
In addition to this curatorial support, which combines historical awareness with an aesthetic urgency that continues to this day, Smolka Contemporary also works with young, up-and-coming artists, some of whom have just completed their training at the art academy. Examples of this are Negra Bernhard, Kai Trausenegger and Kaja Clara Joo. Trausenegger takes up cultural-anthropological and spiritually grounded themes and combines them with a contemporary advertising aesthetic. Kaja Clara Joo composes works that always operate at the interface between sculpture and image and reveal micronarratives as part of a larger narrative in three-dimensional objects that appear organic.
Smolka Contemporary sees itself as a gallery that wants to guarantee maximum national and international visibility through intensive collaboration with a limited number of artists – the privileged location in the 1st district of Vienna offers an excellent opportunity for this. By focusing on an aesthetics anchored in a specific art-historical epoch, the programme strives for coherence and, by working with young artists, at the same time wants to demonstrate how the urgencies of the 1980s continue to have an impact in a contemporary world that has been completely changed by media technology. You could also say: back to the future.