Stencilling Photography

 

Wolfgang Uranitsch was born in 1954 in Graz, Austria. In his early career he worked as graphic designer and comic illustrator. He started to work as a freelance artist in the early 80ies but his work was still highly influenced by his experience in graphic design.

 

Wolfgang Uranitsch describes his works as „Metal Spray Art“. Glowing streets in summer light, cityscapes of Miama Beach, Marilyn Monroe are examples of motives that Uranitsch deals with. He utilizes images out of newspapers, glossy magazines, snap-shots, that he took himself, and images from holidays in foreign countries. The source for motives which inspire him seems to be unexhaustable. Uranitsch selects and appropriates those imgages out of a flood of images that surround everyday life. He carefully chooses some images to deeply engage with its aesthetic and structure.

 

For several decades now Urantisch has been refining a special techniques which he created to produce his large format pictures on metal plates. The chosen motives, like a snap shot of Mick Jagger at one of his concerts – not sugarcoated and with a visible tooth gap – or colourful photographs of Croatioan villages or American highways, those pictures are only the starting point for Uranitsch works. Via a method called stencilling he disects each image into colour areas in order to rearrange the image according to his ideas. This procedure takes a lot of time and handcraft. Each colour plane has to be fragmented and transferred to a stencil. Each image is then collaged together out of several stencil layers which are arranged on top of each other. Then follows the spray varnish which builds up the image, layer after layer.This layering creates the deepness on the surface and the richness of the colours. In some of his works Uranitsch includes the rust that oxidation left over on the metal surface as independent aesthetic element.

 

The artist Wolfgang Uranitsch uses technique that is comparable to stencilling methods of graffiti artists. Especially when walking through London’s East End you will find stencilled grafittis all over the place. The godfather of stencilling in public sphere is an anonymous artists called Bansky, infamous within the London underground art scene. Bansky has turned his work into some kind of brand, and the method he uses has spread all over the world as a device for political expression. The advantage of stencilling lies within its ability to be prepared at home and applied quickly in public space, so that the chance to escape police forces is much higher than when you have to juggle around with several spray tins.

 

Uranitsch himself was in contact to grafitti sprayer scene on his many stays abroad -be it in the States, France, Italy or Mexico. He cooperated with grafitti sprayers on several large format fassade designs. Deeply influenced by the formal aesthetics of underground culture (which goes back to his roots as a comic illustrator), Uranitsch translates its visual language into his images and transforms it into a unique style.

The antecessors of transferring non-art material into high art are pop artists like Andy Warhol. He has made the Marilyn portrait an icon that stands for a postmodern way of life up until now. His method of indulging mainstream culture and making it the highest principal of artistic practise has changed the way art is perceived ever since. The fact that Wolfgang Uranitsch reinterprets the icon Marilyn in his own way shows the influence that the practise of Andy Warhol still has on contemporary artists.
In a way the American way of life lays within the choice of motives in Uranitsch’s works. Whether it is a native Indian or an oil field, an oldtimer car on a parking lot – these images create a certain association to symbols of American style. To a certain extent Uranitsch employs methods of advertisement layout in a very conscious way in order to invite the viewer to deeply get involved with his work. The effect on the viewer is striking and magnetic.