Arts & Entertainment

The dystopian worlds of Alfred Kubin

Vienna, Apr 15 (EFE).- A pessimistic clarity about human beings and a traumatic childhood explain the dystopian worlds, the devastated landscapes and the threatening monsters created by Alfred Kubin, a visionary Austrian illustrator whose work shifts between horror and fantasy.

“Perhaps life is just that: a dream and fear,” Kubin (1877-1959) wrote in his diary in 1939.

Kubin’s concept of life will be exhibited at the Leopold Museum in Vienna as of Saturday.

With 248 pieces, most of them black and white drawings, the museum presents Kubin’s work alongside other dark compositions by artists that inspired him, like Goya and Edvard Munch.

The title of the exhibition, ‘Confessions of a tormented soul’, already sets the mood for the aesthetic and emotional universe of the artist.

Kubin had a difficult childhood. His mother died when he was 10 years old, and his stepmother one year later. Depression, sexual abuse, nervous breakdowns that interrupted his studies and military career as well as a suicide attempt are part of a list of dark episodes that marked the artist’s life.

“Life and art cannot be separated in Kubin’s case,” Hans-Peter Wipplinger, director of the museum and curator of the exhibition, tells Efe.

“It is evident that the fears accompanied him until his death,” Wipplinger says.

Just as those traumatic experiences marked his work, art was Kubin’s way of processing his feelings and experiences, in a kind of catharsis.

“Another person would have gone to a psychiatrist, but Kubin drew,” he says.

Kubin, who was part of the group of expressionist artists known as Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), influenced Surrealist painters, such as Max Ernst, and his work is known to have been admired by writers such as Stefan Zweig and Franz Kafka.

The illustrator lived much of his life in seclusion in a mansion in Austria, although he maintained an intense relationship by letter with artists such as Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Thomas Mann. EFE


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