Katia Huemer - ensure for size, Kunsthaus Graz project space

Dino Zrnec devotes his paintings to the testing of materials. The artist draws attention to the practical and usually hidden procedures inherent in painting by making conscious technical 'mistakes': he lets the reverse side of the canvas show through and turns it into the motif, overstretches canvases, does without gesso or uses it 'improperly', drips oil paint onto canvases, dissolves the colours with turpentine overnight or adds cracks, folds or buckling to the surface. Christoph Bruckner describes the working method of his artist colleague as 'performative painting', where it is only through the action-oriented process that the canvas becomes a painting.

Though Zrnec does not leave the result to chance, he certainly cedes it to process of experimentation. In developing one such experimental series in 2012, for example, the artist placed turpentine-and oil paint-filled plastic containers on the canvas and left the creative part to the turpentine. The turpentine chemicals dissolved the plastic container overnight, exposing the paint to the canvas and leaving round stains in their wake. Zrnec codes the temporal dimension of the development process, a process that is also palpable to the viewer, into the title of the paintings, and in doing so makes them a fixed part of the work: 22:10 – 9:13, 23:30 – 11:13 or 20:13 – 11:08.

Christoph Bruckner interprets this series of works as a comment on the increasingly blurred line between work and leisure in post- Fordism, where nine-to-five jobs have long been a thing of the past. But even if Zrnec’s paintings draw any number of loaded associations and interpretations, the deconstruction of painting allows no narration and turns the paintings into minimalist, experimental objects. The principle of the series, which Zrnec needs for his paint experiments, strips the paintings of their aura of originality without robbing the individual images of their raison d'être. Because nevertheless—and even without knowing about Zrnec’s process-oriented approach—the paintings stand as works in their own right, and are very perceptible on a visceral level.

For the last exhibition in Project Space, Dino Zrnec chose the ambiguous title ensure for size, an allusion to the many different dimensions and formats that reside in Project Space as a sculpture, and which the artist reflected in his installation. The painter grappled with Zobernig and Kläring’s space more than any of the preceding projects, simultaneously searching for the best possible solution for integrating his own work into the sculpture and providing both artworks with a measure of autonomy.

The interventions Zrnec employed in order to engage the existing structure were at once minimal and ruthless: the artist cut various shapes out of the wooden panels in the walls of the project space, stretched fabric over them, then inserted the cut-out shapes back into the incised hole. The front of the resulting canvas disappeared into the wall, leaving only a few visible hints that the 'actual artwork' was hidden behind it. Dino Zrnec used hints and traces to translate the project space for his painting, commented on its forms and thus on aspects of its content as well.The outlines of a painting succinctly leaning against the wall appear again, slightly offset, in a jigsaw cut into the wall behind it. The format of the canvas reveals another reference to a height dimension in the space; yet instead of rendering it 1: 1, he halved it and applied it as a quote for the Project Space. The conceptual similarity to Martin Kippenberger’s 1991 installation Weiße Bilder (White Paintings), where Kippenberger sunk a series of (at first glance) white canvases into a wall at the Hamburger Bahnhof, is no accident.

Art historical references, more unconscious than conscious, have always been a part of the young artist’s work and are, like many other things, silent companions of his aesthetic practices.