Long Live Rock 'n' Roll


Pop culture- or rather subculture- marks the meeting point of contradictions, e.g. between established white culture and forms of  traditional Indian culture. The manifestations of popular culture which emerged primarily as the expression of a counter-position to so-called „classic art „obviously share a close affinity with marginalized forms of culture in the ethnological tradition.


Both Indians and young people were at the edge of society in the 50s and 60s: Their aspirations and always of life were neither considered socially desiderable or sustainable. At least with regard to the standing of within society, the outburst of indignation this provoked was to reach the initial highpoint of 1968, parallel developments among ethnic minorities proceeded at a much slower or almost non-existent pace.


Even so the mutual solidarity of each of the marginalized parties is striking at least with regard to their external forms of culture. Indians or indigenous peoples such as the South Sea islanders or extinct cultures ( the Mayas Incas and Aztecs) would find that certain forms of their own culture are again present in the trivial i.e. Subculture of white youth.


Comics frequently tell of extinct cultures which appear in eclectic mixes of styles and couple these with the results of research on extraterrestrials. As a pioneer of the world of comics in the German speaking countries, Wolfgang Uranitsch takes this phenomenon into account. His Minicomputers- which have appeared in various publications including  SCHWERMETALL (Heavy Metal) - tell stories of the past and the future and also feature classic thrillers. His psychedelic approach always comes to the fore. The most recent works of Wolfgang Uranitsch are best viewed  in the context of  Leary, Capra and other  thinkers of the era and in the fact that the pop and drugs culture is already at least 50 years old, a historical tradition which has left its mark on today. He has developed his own stencil technique in which the pictures are sprayed with enamel paints on to tin trays. In taking advantage of the chemical reaction of the tin trays he uses the rusting or oxidising process as formal method in his work. His main subjects consist of Indians land scopes icon-like portraits (such as Marilyn Monroe or Naomi Campbell) as well as representations of technoid romanticism (including drilling rigs, cars, motorcycles and streets).


At the same time the topography of the landscapes does not constitute the most decisive factor. Whether the subject for a piece of work comes from Spain or Croatia is not important because our minds automatically associate the images with the American West- hence the topography marks the expression of a feeling of life. The drilling rigs from Azerbaijan (Baku) look as if they could have come straight from the cinema classic „Giant” with Liz Tailor and James Dean. What Uranitsch assumes in his work is our awareness and knowledge of the media. The dilapidated Chevy parked in front of the slatted wooden wall of a cabin overgrown with grass is a picture that we immediately associate with New Mexico, Arizona, California, etc. The car depicted in Uranitsch`s painting comes from Slovenia of course. Yet this does not make the subject inferior at all. Instead the fact that cultural elements can be exchanged with each other becomes evident.


In his „Candy-Colored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby“ written back in 1968 Tom Wolfe remarked that the prevailing elitist culture of the privileged classes with its sense of styles and symbols had been replaced after the Second World War by a culture that not only appealed to the masses but had also emerged from them. High society had been replaced by the pop society in which the „proletarian vision“ of the new world could no longer be expressed in aristocratic forms of art but in sub cultural forms such as pop music, underground films and the neon signs of Las Vegas. This aspect has been further reinforced by the awareness the media which has grown up since then.
In this sense  the spray metal paintings of Wolfgang Uranitsch do not deal exclusively with „ trash culture „in the most positive sense of the world: instead they explore an  intensive feeling of life. The „paradise on earth“ promised by pop culture and the hell which it is occasional outcome both feature in his works. Here the needs, dreams and fears of the present time are depicted in a direct and subversive fashion which is both subconscious and unreflected. While trash appears to be telling us what we want to experience, classic art tells us what we are supposed to experience. This leaves us caught in the middle to play off the one as a „weapon“ against the other. After all Rambo is a figure taken from the Iliad and the „low riders“ of the Latin Americans  with their emblems are fighting machines in their battle for recognition within capitalist white civilisation.