Born in Wien, but long-since settled in Lower Austria, C.F.J. (Christian Franz Joseph) König paints figuratively by his own admission. Figurative painting has of course been declared dead for a long time, but this genre has once again become very fashionable.

Figurative? Yes, but please keep it a secret! For every artist it remains a fundamental principle and constant challenge to grasp the visible world in painting.

C.F.J. König’s pictures are not at first glance figurative; they do not correspond to the prototypes of figurative painting and the visible world does not appear to be present. The first public exhibition of his works took place in 1980 in Perchtoldsdorf. Frequent travelling and long stays in South America and Asia have deepened the artist’s encounter with old cultures, the mythological and spiritual contents of which are a source of artistic inspiration to him.

He does not paint on site, however, but instead gathers impression and insights, which much later are transformed and become visible in his studio, in which process the continuum of space and time is dissolved. Retrospectives, introspectives, forecasts and confrontation flow together seamlessly. His spatial compositions could be described as “discontinuous painting”. Especially in the newest works, it becomes clear how space as a continuum is almost entirely dissolved, or perhaps rather the spatial representation of the figure or portrait pushes into regions that can no longer be unambiguously recognised as space or area.

C.F.J. König builds up his pictures by working forwards from the respective background. He has worked out the technical requirements of his style of painting through experimentation. When one looks at his artistic work over a longer period, one can see that painting as a material activity – as a procedure and process, with the painting as a multi-layered material body – is focused upon more and more strongly. Action in execution has increasingly gained in importance. Are C.F.J. König’s pictures really figurative as the artist claims? Do they convey an image of the real world, of reality?

Reality, realised as an excluding procedure, as an attempt at reduction, has claimed scientific and artistic treatment as its due for centuries.

C.F.J. König plays with the possibilities of the perception of figurative representation: like other life-forms, we humans are also programmed to react to particular, not very numerous, key visual stimuli. Arranging these key stimuli in such a way as to allow the observer to receive his works has become an increasingly important aspect of the artist’s task. His works constitute a closed system with several meanings. Disorder seems to be prevalent in them – they open up possibilities. Many of the things that can be seen in the pictures do not always seem to be connected at first glance. But as the content sinks in, the varying details take on relationships to each other. We are, after all, now living in a staged world. And C.F.J. König’s pictures create connections to our real world. The artist experiences “familiar conditions” as “annoying, disturbing and un-free”. And the observer is also invited to adopt this attitude, in order to experience the very personal enrichment that C.F.J. König’s paintings can be.

Dr. Edith Risse
Art Historian