© PRINTEMPS DE SEPTEMBRE
PHOTO: DAMIEN ASPE
Bruno Gironcoli, Cavalcade, Mamco, Geneva, 2012, © Ilmari Kalkkinen.
Sculpture, even more-so than painting, has rarely delivered comical or whimsical works of art. With the exception of Franz Xaver Mersserschmidt and Honoré Daumier's jokes and satires, it is not until Hans Ruedi Giger and the sci-fi aesthetics of the Alien series that “biomechanical” sculptural objects pervaded our globalised culture. This is why it is difficult to situate Bruno Gironcoli's strange and singular work that seems to have anticipated this cinematic imaginary. From 1963 until his death in 2010 he was a sculptor as well as an active artist. He belongs to an Austria whose writers and artists, from Karl Kraus to Thomas Bernhard, from Robert Musil to Elfriede Jelinek and from Otto Muehl to Heimo Zobernig, not to mention Franz West have made irony the driving force of their expression and of their unforgiving view on society and the world. The visual universe of Surrealism and the monsters that occupy the primitive Flemish and German also resounds in Gironcoli's monumental sculptures.
Their characteristic mechanisation is always hybridised by organic elements as if it were a monstrous confusion of a kingdom, a strange or joyous process of continuous metaphor. A sort of dreamy carnival parades past the bewitched eyes of the viewer: Gironcoli's world is haunted by Diyonisiac gatherings in the age of the “single machines”. André Breton's proposed notion of “symbolic function” is perfectly applied to these prophetic carts, these cruel mechanisms, these mutant bodies that oscillate between menace and communicative jubilation. As if it were a parable about the artificial becoming of our organisms coupled with the growing biomimetic ability of machinery.
Initially a goldsmith, Bruno Gironcoli studied sculpture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In 1977 he took the place of Fritz Wotruba and taught sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. In 2003 he represented Austria at the Venice Biennale. An important retrospective of his work was shown at the Mumok in 2018. Born in 1936 in Villach (Austria), he died in 2010 in Vienna where he lived and worked.