The East Tyrolean artist on towers, style and pregnancy blues
The East Tyrolean artist Michael Unterluggauer creates pictures for the mind and the eye, choosing emotional intelligence – the highest form of talent – as his principle of life so to speak.
He paints the positive in order to remind us of the existence of the negative, in some works even appealing to us.
His paintings are introspective, impulses for question and answer and, in spite of the frequently non-graphic depiction, unambiguously legible and understandable messages.
“My enjoyment of and passion for art increase with every year that passes.” Even after 30 years the East Tyrolean artist Michael Unterluggauer has lost none of his drive. On the contrary, the dedicated teacher invests more time in his artistic work than ever before. “It’s just beginning to get interesting now,” is his conviction. “You can concentrate on the content of your pictures only when you have perfect command of the technique,” he philosophizes. And while he is on the subject: “A picture isn’t really finished until the viewer has thought it to its conclusion.”
Oils, acrylic paints , water colours, red chalk, charcoal – the artist has tried various techniques in the past, but now he uses mainly an acrylic combination technique. And that is how he came to develop his own distinctive style. However, this perfect blend of technique and content is possible only in a so-called flowing state. “Absolute concentration and yet complete relaxation. That’s the ideal state in which to compose a picture,” he is convinced.
The painter from East Tyrol retires to his studio every day to apply himself to his ‘flowing state’.
But the works didn’t always just flow from his brush. “An artist has his ups and downs, of course. There were times when I really had pregnancy blues trying to give birth to a picture, suffering until I was able to transfer the moods and feelings within me on to the canvas,” Michael remembers. Now that he has shaken off these depressions, it is always a challenge for him to create a work for the eye and the mind. Incidentally, he constantly uses the tower as a central symbol in his works; the watchman reminding those around him to keep both feet on the ground.
“When you build your tower too high, you flout the laws of nature and creation,” Unterluggauer quotes freely from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. That is Michael’s objective in his pictures – he allows the towers to extend into the sky, then makes them collapse again as a warning, presenting the whole process in a successful composition of colours, often in a female nude symbolizing social communications. “I paint positive pictures to criticize negative things”, the artist explains.
Michael, who grew up on a farm in Lienz as one of nine children, has always been interested in all forms of art. “I used to cut out prints and paper my room with them,” he reminisces. His true artistic talent was to remain hidden for many, many years. At the age of 14 he went to the BORG school in Innsbruck, then did his teacher’s training, returning to his native East Tyrol as a fully fledged teacher. His involvement with painting was more chance than anything else, even though there had been at least a little artistry in the family in former times. One of his ancestors was Jakob Glieber, a troubadour and artist who was popular in the 19th century.
The 50-year-old, who has been married for 27 years and has 2 daughters, owes his market value, which has risen considerably in the past few years, to a great extent to Dietmar Hosp from Nassereith in North Tyrol, a gallery owner and manager of the Kunsthalle.
“From the very beginning he praised my work and gave me so much confidence,” Michael says. With success! For today a genuine Unterluggauer enjoys the artistic and intellectual significance it so rightly deserves.
Markus Gassler - Kronenzeitung
When a person delves down into his innermost self, into a realm that all too seldom sees the light of day, an unknown space mysteriously waiting to be discovered, tickled awake, even agonisingly erected, that is when art is born.
Full of emotion, in pain, gently or in ecstatic happiness, works can originate that speak a new language. This limitless language is what the artist Michael Unterluggauer speaks with powerful perfection.
The genesis of his works is like the birth of thoughts, ideas, emotions. Simply and without words, experiences and dreams are impressively dressed by him in colours. When looking at what has come to life the viewer is witness to the expression of the ruthlessly laid-bare depth of the artist. Courage, modesty, childlike sincerity and unfathomable fantasy enable an almost aggressive request to partake of the experience, to feel this profundity.
Time is mercilessly demanded, for one fleeting glance, a benevolent nod of the head and admiring appreciation are not enough for this man. He wants more; he wants a rendezvous, even if it is to last eternally. He wants the struggle, love, an earthquake that shakes foundations. Only then will his message have got through.
A close study of one of Michael Unterluggauer’s works can best be compared to an embrace which makes one curious, from which one never wishes to escape, which one will never forget and during which one longs for more – for the all-embracing knowledge and the pure ability to learn to live.
Not only the artist himself, but also each one of his explosions of expression was really born to leave traces. A gift to the world.
Maria Glinzner-Lusser, 2007