Vienna Art WeekNews

“Bosch either experienced something crazy – or he was a brilliant creative inventor. Both is impressive to me.”

Christine Schlegel: Der Falkner, 2019 Öl auf Leinwand © Christine Schlegel, Foto: Erich Hussmann, Wien

INTERVIEW with artist Christine Schlegel about her exhibition “Korrespondenzen: Bosch & Schlegel – Christine Schlegel: Reservate abtrünniger Engel” in the Gemäldegalerie of the Academy of Fine Arts.


In the exhibition series “Korrespondenzen”, contemporary artists are invited to deal with the representation of the “Last Judgment” by Hieronymus Bosch (around 1450/55 – 1516), which is the centerpiece of the exhibition.

In the upcoming edition, starting March 12, 2020, the German artist Christine Schlegel presents six paintings that were created as a tribute to the Dutch painter, whom she adored since her youth. Having grown up in Communist Eastern Germany, Schlegel left the country with the help of a fictitious marriage and went to West Berlin via the Netherlands. She has worked in the United States, Scotland, Umbria, and South America. Today, the versatile artist lives again in Dresden. In a talk with VIENNA ART WEEK, Schlegel explains, how the pictures of the current exhibition were created.

VIENNA ART WEEK: How do you approach the work of a 15th-century painter? Is it a challenge or inspiration to refer to his work?

Christine Schlegel: It was a great inspiration and a discovery to create paintings with such excitement.

VIENNA ART WEEK: Which content-related or symbolic peculiarities of Bosch did you try to transport also in your works?

Christine Schlegel: I didn’t have to transport anything in terms of content because Bosch’s surreal metaphysical world was inherent in my pictures from the very beginning of my artistic work. During my studies, I discovered the absurdity of art through the arbitrary creation of collages. Set pieces from photos, pictures, magazines, and real situations, which I set apart and reassembled in my head became my inner worlds. Similar to collage, my work is not directed by content, but according to graphic terms. This is how I approached the Bosch pictures. I used whatever caught my eye or matched my picture in terms of color and composition to point out similarities, even though I rearranged it. The big picture “The Lost Paradise” already existed, the other five works I painted in three months.

VIENNA ART WEEK: What do you particularly like about Hieronymus Bosch?

Christine Schlegel: Bosch either experienced or noticed something crazy – or he was a brilliant creative inventor. Both is impressive to me. When I received the large Bosch book as a present at the age of 18, I felt a sensation of unease that I had previously only known from the considerations and evaluations of fascist atrocities. The question: “What are people capable of” began to deeply occupy me. Only Biermann’s lyrics: “Whoever does not put himself in danger will perish in it” became salvation.

VIENNA ART WEEK: The socially critical momentum in Bosch’s work is emphasized again and again. Is that something you share with him, eg. in your work of the revised Stasi files?

Christine Schlegel: The Stasi file pictures are of very real origin. The absurdity in it arose because the GDR itself was absurd and antagonistic.

VIENNA ART WEEK: You work with a wide variety of media. Why did you decide to use paintings for your exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie?

Christine Schlegel: For me, painting is always the first option for processing thoughts and feelings. Other works, like the 35mm short film “Apokalypso”, many collages or photo overpainting would also have done justice to the exhibition. But it was not meant to be an exhibition about my life’s work, but rather an homage to Hieronymus Bosch spread over a 10-meter long wall.

Bosch & Schlegel
Christine Schlegel: Reservate abtrünniger Engel

Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien

Lobkowitzplatz 2, 1010 Vienna

Opening: 11 March 2020, 7:00 pm
Press Guided Tour: 10 March 2020, 11:00 am
Exhibition: 12 March till 24 May 2020