FWF Art Award 2012

Franz Graf

For a long time now, Franz Graf has worked with ornaments extensively and with symbols intensively. In doing so, he devotes his energy to problems which were once deemed outdated by the rigid advocates of ENLIGHTENMENT. However, the perceived obsolescence of the ornamental and the symbolic was not so much brought about by the abstract or non-representational, the concrete and MATERIAL TENDENCIES OF modern ART in our century.

Instead, THIS OBSOLENCE MAINLY CAME ABOUT in the sphere of interpretation – and it was certainly not without contradictions in the beginnings and even in the final RESULT. […]

When Graf revisits the ornamental in our world today, he devotes himself FULLY to his basic principle, THE SEQUENCING OF LIKE ELEMENTS, which evolved largely from the DEMONSTRATIVE FUNCTION inherent in the ornamental; the decorative function is clearly secondary in his work. And in this process, he arrives at the basic GEOMETRIC FIGURES which immediately enrich this demonstrative function with symbolic representations of COSMIC DIMENSIONS. [...]

And yet the sequences of lines are laced with structure sof meaning. They are, by nature, anything but DESTINED FOR ETERNITY, even if the literary genre of the epic aims to approach that end.

BUT EVEN THE EPIC FORMS cyclical patterns in its threads of meaning; in other types of literature, the threads become entangled into DRAMA, while other genres pull them APART, and still others weave and COMPRESS them into lyricism, and so on and so forth, until there is some kind of CUT and RUPTURE. Graf follows this flow, TURNING SCRIPT AROUND and UPSIDE DOWN, even uprooting it FROM THE BASE OF THE LINE, with the many extracted letters strung across HANGNING THREADS TO FORM CHAINS, giving the impression of renewed TAUTNESS AS IN SET TYPE [...]

Graf uses the ornamental and the symbolic to address problems in a concrete poetry which is no longer just a way to create an instrumental awareness and make us rethink what poetry has always done; instead, he tells new stories using the methods of concrete poetry, EPICALLY AND CYCLICALLY LINKED STORIES ON THE DEEDS AND SUFFERINGS OF LITERALITY. [...]

From Ornament – symbol – reversed writing – shadow lines; by Burghart Schmidt (excerpts)