In a world of growing individualism and consumption, some may argue that the stereotypes of American Psycho, as quoted by the book’s author Bret Easton Ellis, are ever more seizing reality:
“I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself. That is where the tension of ‘American Psycho’ came from.”
One could agree that supply and demand, trends, and fashion seem to be defining the way of living in our society. Or perhaps that the pressure to belong to the system, the pressure to perform and the pressure to play a role, all seem to be omnipresent. In the world of characters created by the Austrian painter Markus Kravanja, melancholic individuals, portraying the message of isolation and speechlessness, also deliver another story. Alas, the spectator of Kravanja’s art finds a new world, a new “cosmos” of its own, in which beauty arises from within the stereotypes.
Gewiss mag das bei beruflichen wie bei freizeitlichen Anlässen sichtbare Resultat des menschlichen Strebens nach dem unerreichbaren und realitätsfremden Menschenbild aus Werbung, Film und Fernsehen aus soziologischer und psychologischer Sicht bedenklich und kritikwürdig erscheinen.
Dem ästhetischen Blick offenbart sich darin jedoch eine Schönheit, welche im Gegensatz zu jener des angestrebten aber trügerischen Vorbilds gar nicht oberflächlich ist.
Denn wo trotz der makellosen Oberfläche eines Menschen das von der mitunter mühsamen Bewältigung seiner Existenz geprägte Innere durch eine nicht abbröckeln wollende Fassade erkennbar wird, entsteht diese wohl tragische Schönheit, die etwas Heldenhaftes in sich birgt.
In his cosmos, Kravanja has given birth to hundreds of individual figures, all with similar characteristics: large lonely eyes longing to speak, pressed lips commanding silence (none of his figures shows an open mouth), and all too ideal bodies locking within them the secrets of castaway human beings yearning for more.
A man between the worlds
Markus Kravanja, born in Graz in 1976, discovered his passion for painting while studying law. The wave of inspiration began with “Basquiat” by Julian Schnabel, “that is a film about the life of the painter Jean Michel Basquiat” recalls Kravanja himself, “who started as a Graffiti-Sprayer and who was completely auto didactical. After the film I thought to myself: I want to do that too. And so I pulled out my painting equipment, which I still had from school, and painted the entire night, until the blackbirds chirped”. Even after completing his degree in law, Kravanja began a doctorate degree and started researching for his dissertation on copyright law. During that time, however, the young painter had already established a name in the art world in Vienna, with over 140 paintings carrying price tags ranging between 1000 and 3600 Euros.
With his academic background and personal skills, Kravanja had all the cards to a successful and prosperous career. Yet it is probably this background which gave the painter an understanding for the success-systems ruling society and which portray the superfluous façades of the characters in his cosmos.
The Kravanja Cosmos, the Kravanja Story
Kravanja’s paintings, as colorful as they may be, offer a story with which the viewer can identify; a story full of drama and personality, carried by his individual figures which bestow upon each painting a unique individuality. No two paintings are anything close to alike. For, more than portraying a critical view today’s society, Kravanja’s seems to be telling the viewer about the depth and individuality of people themselves (no two people are alike) – and precisely that will probably be the key to the young artist’s current and future success.