First published: Summer 2019

The Austrian art brut creator Leopold Strobl's distinctive drawing-collages are bold in form and rich in ambiance

In the overlapping categories of art brut and outsider art, numerous creators have produced drawings, mixed-media assemblages, and other works that are partly or wholly abstract. (Consider, for example, among others, the works of such artists as Jeanne Tripier, Eric Derkenne, Anna Zermánková, Dan Miller, and Judith Scott.) Now, with the emergence in recent years of the intriguing drawings of the Austrian Leopold Strobl, the role of abstraction in the bold compositions of one of the most original artists anywhere on the contemporary scene have come into sharp focus – and again have shown just how expressive this art-making element can be in the work of an innovative autodidact.

 

Untitled, 2019, 5 x 3.5 in. / 12.5 x 9 cm, pencil and coloured pencil on newsprint, mounted on paper, courtesy: Galerie Gugging, Maria Gugging, Austria

“As a child, I made all kinds of art and I liked to experiment with materials,” Strobl recalled during an interview earlier this year at Galerie Gugging, part of the Art Brut Centre Gugging, an arts complex northwest of Vienna that includes a gallery, museum, artists’ residence and art studio. This multifaceted institution has long played a leading role in promoting the work of notable art brut creators in Austria.

Strobl, who was born in 1960 in the state of Lower Austria, north of Vienna, noted that, as he was growing up, despite the interest he expressed in making art, his teachers told him that becoming an artist was not a likely prospect for him, and that an artist’s life would be very hard.

“That did not deter me,” he said matter-of-factly. Strobl, who, with his long, grey-white beard, gentle gaze, and soft-spoken manner, brings to mind a large elf, explained that he went on to make landscape pictures and, eventually, just a few years ago, began clipping photos of landscapes from newspapers. He was especially interested in photos showing large expanses of sky. “Making art has an almost religious character for me”, he noted, adding, “I’ve always been interested in the sky; I used to go up on the roof and look at the sky.”

 

This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #102.

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