Lukas Janitsch | Petra, 2019

In his new workcycle, the artist Lukas Janitsch presents a form of stone cutting, developed by him, which, by adding new materials such as polyester and the combination of historical craft techniques such as opus sectile and commesso di pietre dure, represents a reinterpretation of the same method.

In his search for rock material with often cultural-historical significance, Janitsch has combed the abandoned quarries, mountain massifs and most remote rivers of Austria over the last two years.

In his working process Janitsch is guided by the material. Only through frequent grinding and polishing the stone reveals its abundance of colours and structures, motifs emerge from associations and reactions and the result plays with the aesthetic expectations placed on stone as a cold, inorganic material.

Lukas Janitsch | das ahnt keiner, 2016
Text by Nina Lucia Groß and Raphael Dillhof

“How you were! How you are! Nobody knows it, none can guess!” The opening lines of Richard Strauss’ Rosenkavalier already anticipate the theme of temporality the opera takes up, putting into words the complex relationship between the passing and experiencing of time. Lukas Janitsch’s exploration of how time is perceived also begins with how the past is conveyed into the present: old-fashioned porcelain with delicate mille-fleur, coffee mugs with cartoon motifs, and ‘Wimmelbilder’, pictures teeming with detailed figures, which are to train the child’s eye to follow the change of seasons – the exhibited objects refer to the realm of memories.
Even if at first this collection may seem to be personal and private, the objects and motifs are in fact archetypical emblems, symbols of a happy childhood. The objects are thus not the result of years of collecting artefacts, nor are they treasures taken directly from the artist’s very own personal trove; they are, rather, fabricated by him, meticulously hand painted. An eerie shift also takes place in the motifs, revealing itself only at second glance. The coffee cups, exuding an idyllic atmosphere, are not decorated with common field flowers but endangered, almost extinct species; the botanic illustrations are taken from the Red List of threatened plants. The animal motifs of the cartoon series: no harmless playmates but protagonists of a dystopian fable. “As the animals left the forest” is about man’s destruction of the forest and the animals’ forced flight.
Lukas Janitsch juxtaposes this collection, a fictitious echo of an idealized childhood idyll that has become firmly etched in the collective memory by superimposed media images, with authentic historical objects. They are fossilised pieces of bone, taken from the Natural History Museum, laid out on coloured glass panels. The threat formulated in the cups has long been fulfilled in the remains of the Ice Age species: the steppe bison, mammoth and cave bear are completely and utterly extinct, their life and history, now conserved, appear able to be reconstructed on the basis of the tiniest fragments. The glass panels are also fragments and remnants: they are sections of historical stained-glass windows, the negative forms created by the cutting, which have been stored in the cellar of a Viennese art glazer for a good hundred years and refer to their matching counterparts in chapels and churches.
Arranged into platform-like forms with building bricks, the museum exhibits are translated into a precarious game of balance: the signifiers which, thanks to their historicity as fragments, render visible what has long vanished, become abstract forms, detached from any fixed textual or visual ascription, discharged from their archaeological function. The “how-it-was” loses its imperative force and becomes a flexible space of possibility, while as sunlight, time itself wanders through the panes of coloured glass, casting a coloured shadow over the souvenirs and relics.
Between porcelain cups and bone fragments, between fictitious witnesses of the past and authentic historicity, Janitsch casts a tight net that explores the function of remembering as it oscillates between deception and preservation. When we lose ourselves in the micro-narratives of the teeming figure pictures and the adventures of the cartoon characters so that time becomes an unfathomable and extendable dimension, then the subject taken up by the Knight of the Rose Octavian, which sounds out at the top of each hour, is the necessary time-giving meter that first makes the passing of time tangible.

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geb. 1989 im Burgenland, Österreich
seit 2008 Studium Malerei an der Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien

Exhibition (Selection 2010 - 2019)

Groupshow Austrian Cultural Forum London: OUR WAYS OF LIFE, London (GB)
OCEC – Vom Kristallin bis heute, Landesgalerie Burgenland, Eisenstadt (A)

"Only human", Austrian Cultural Forum, London, Vereinigtes Königreich (GB)


Das ahnt keiner, unttld contemporary, Wien (A) (solo)
past perfect simple, 2025 e.V., Hamburg (D)

Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean, Mailan (ITA)
Caspar-David-Friedrich-Galerie, Greifswald (D) (solo)
sphere/01, Mohsen Gallery, Teheran (IR)

Synanthrop, unttld contemporary, Wien (A) (solo)
Willkommen im Paradies, Landesgalerie Burgenland, Eisenstadt (A)

Aufstellung, kuratiert von Hans Schabus, Skulpturinstitut, Wien (A)
in defence of the poor image, hufak off space, Wien (A)

The Essence, Künstlerhaus Wien, Wien (A)

Junger Wein, MAK – Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Wien (A)

The Essence, Künstlerhaus Wien, Wien (A)

Auszeichnungen (Auswahl)

2015 Caspar-David_Friedrich Preis
2013 „Stipendium der Anni und Heinrich Sussmann Stiftung“
2010 „Burgenländischer Jugendkulturpreis“