Artist Statement

OPUS is almost a laboratory-type experiment, based on the idea of devising a principle of classification that is rather visionary than mythical, because it utilizes our everyday commodities. 

But these commodities aren’t what we used to call “ready-mades” since the times of Marcel Duchamp: They reach far beyond and aim at something completely different. The essence of this new principle is the continued usage of these commodities, or items; to unhinge them, employ them and afterwards re-integrate them, thereby facilitating via art a completely new awareness of how to handle the world. 

This process consists in the change of our perception of things; of how we view them even as we use them, while the subconscious “images” them in their “customary connection of convenience”. Thereafter we rediscover them, now qua formal elements of an artwork, wherein they suddenly come across as something totally diverse: An orderliness that outranks the myth of purpose. Thus we overcome the principles of classification that follow the axiom of this myth. They belong to the perennial legends of the 20th century, causing absurdity, implying contempt of the world and the unscrupulous interaction with it. 

Forced to reach into the work, this action is embedded in the work, becomes part of it, and thus redefines action per se. 

Works that lack the implication of commodities point their overtone to the very painting, making it palpable to what extent painting is still caught up in myth, denominating painting as the overcome of an action that rooted in volition. We are being referred to the pivotal issue of artistic principles – how to contact the entities of life? 

What are entities literally? What is the proper impetus of our actions? – Could any touch, could any admission to the world have dreadful results? 

And it is precisely because we act forcedly, and not always in accordance with our uppermost awareness, that we miss the violations that are integral part of most of our actions. 

That’s the tragedy of action, of time, and the enigma of being on this Earth. 

There is no consummate movement, as every motion is a search. - Whilst on this Earth, we cannot seize the ultimate truth. – We can merely approach truth by endless variations=visions. – Once we do know the truth, there is no more need for action. 

Motion denotes a movement through endless times and horizons, towards the ultimate truth. 

“When it gets dark, we turn on the light” 

Our society defines itself as “civil society”. But nowadays there is no worse insult then “bourgeois”. This so-called “pacified civil society” that is so proud of its peacefulness, cherishes its delusion of being much more progressive and sophisticated than the “brutal ages”, when people ran around fully armed and dashed out each other’s brains at every opportunity. But this shallow observation is utterly deceptive. In order to judge our times correctly, we have to comprise the whole arsenal of NBC weapons. Thus we notice that we have done nothing else but to repress “violence” from consciousness, into unperceivable shadow zones, ready to be released at the push of a button. 

If these weapons should ever be applied, the world would be destroyed for endless generations, a feat no former terror would have been able to achieve. 

This alleged placidity emerges as “pseudo-peacefulness” and impairment. 

Rudolf Leitner-Gründberg 



Rudolf Leitner-Gründberg

  • Born in 1955 in Gründberg/Linz, Upper Austria (Parents: Gertraud and Dr. Roman Leitner 
  • Circa 1960 – defining moment with a “Goldtaler” 

  • 1970 – started a printing apprenticeship My mother purchasing a book about the work of Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka represents a defining moment. 

  • 1972 – started 4 years of evening school During this period, the music of Mozart, Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler are the most important stimuli Terminated apprenticeship; started working at the father’s auditing company. 

  • 1975 – trip to Villeneuve, next to Lake Geneva, to visit Oskar Kokoschka 

  • 1976 A-levels; admission examination at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Accepted in Carl Unger’s master class in painting Experiencing Titian’s paintings at the “Kunsthistorische Museum” in Vienna is a decisive experience. The painting “Shepherd and Nymph” makes me realise that painting enables us to overcome time – “Dissolving time, realising that time is an illusion”. After a number of intense disputes about art and painting style with Carl Unger, enrolled into the master class of Oswald Oberhuber and afterwards that of Bazon Brock. 

  • 1977 Trip to Madeira in the company of art dealer Otto Beyvl – a number of aquarelles of landscapes are created on site. 

  • 1978 Another trip in the company of Otto Beyvl to Paris – deeply moved by the work of Odilon Redon 

  • 1979 first use of gold leaf and silver leaf, which was also used in the diploma project in 1980 

  • The first paintings involving crowns are created. (A girl playing princess and a self-portrait with removed feather crown

  • ...”the crown becomes the symbol for something individually distinct, for one’s vision, for the most inner, indestructible and unique core. I realize that my personal vision of the crown describes a universal spiritual principle – The possibility to live up to one’s highest potential” 

  • We can only contribute to society if we follow our true calling. With this in mind, a new definition of the crown as a symbol is necessary. 

  • 1980 – diploma under Oswald Oberhuber 

  • 1980 – first solo exhibition at the Otto Beyvl art gallery in Linz ( after a very successful, but short, collaboration, Otto Beyvl dies in 1981) 

  • Fall of 1980 Trip to Odenwald/Germany to visit Anselm Kiefer 

  • My then friend Peter Friedl introduces me and my girlfriend and future wife, Barbara Szapáry to Hermann Nitsch 

  • 1983 Marriage with Barbara Szapáry, conservator; studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. 

  • 1984 work related trip to London; Studio in London; My wife worked at the Victoria and Albert museum. Several hikes in the countryside. Intensive involvement with the Pre-Raphaelites. Visited a great-grandson of Edward Byrne-Jones. A friend introduces us to the painter Viscount Weymouth; we visit him in his castle in Longleat (Bath). The murals that he painted in his own castle have an extraordinary and lasting impression on us. 

  • After our return from England, studio and apartment in Vienna 

  • 1984 Relocation to Linz – studio and apartment 

  • 1984 and 1985, my art dealer Wolfgang Grüner (Linz) represents me at the Art-Basel (Switzerland). Encounter with Carl László (Art collector). What follows are night after night discussions about art in the extraordinary furnished rooms of his art collection in his house in Basel. 

  • Exhibition at the art gallery of Rosenberg palace; Erni and Herbert Gadenstätter (Zell am See) 

  • 1986 after a long search, purchase of the “Alter Pfarrhof” (old vicarage) in Wolfsbach (Lower Austria). I had a presentiment about this specific house which is reflected in a 1979 painting, without ever having visited this area. 

  • 1987 Birth of daughter Theresa and relocation to Wolfsbach Initial contact with and first exhibition at the art gallery Curtze; Ms. Heike Curtze (Vienna) since then continuous collaboration with the gallery 

  • Fall of 1987, initial contact with art gallery Bleich-Rossi, Gabriella and Aki Bleich-Rossi (Graz). The relocation to our new home goes hand in hand with a major rift in my work. I repaint all figural and gold paintings. Now I focus more on abstract paintings in black and white 

  • 1988 I write my first and only play “Sinnweltlos” which is greatly influencing my painting at that time and induces the transition from a “dark” to a “golden” period. The play itself is about the continuous loss of life vision and the incapability to implement it. The first “Motivverdoppelungen” are created, symbolising finiteness and unique authenticity 

  • 1991 Birth of son Perceval Implementation of “Temporary Monument - Krone am Gründberg” (“The Crown on Gründberg hill”) - fall of 1991 

  • 1991 and 1992 Exhibitions with Weikhard-Cassigneau, in Paris (France) 

  • 1992 “Strichverdoppelungen”, Group of works that focuses on the appeal of “Strokes” on commodities. Death of daughter Theresa.

  • Birth of daughter Ariadne.

  • The series “Bruchstücke von Kaiserwetter” is created (sensuously experiencing history through a landscape) One of my most important sources of inspirations are hikes with my wife through lonely and untouched, yet cultivated areas. 

  • 1994 exhibition at the “Musée des Beaux Arts” in Chartres (Frankreich). The cathedral in Chartres is in my opinion one of the most important monuments of European culture and light mysticism. It is the only cathedral that still has its original glass windows – except for St. Chapel in Paris.

  • Since circa 1974 the work of Marcel Proust is of fundamental importance for me. I therefore create a large Proust-installation in the Museum’s old chapel in Chartres in reference to his frequent trips to Chartres. 

  • 1994 For the first time, the idea of erecting 12 crowns in the south of France crosses my mind Furthermore, the Cathedral was, next to the fairytales from 1001 Nights, the primary source of inspiration for Marcel Proust. 

  • 1995 Exhibition at the state museum in Lower Austria 

  • 1997 First draft of the “Krone im Kaiserpark” (“The Crown in Kaiserpark”)in Bad Ischl,

  • Was initially conceptualized in shades of grey just like the “Krone am Gründberg”. As the colour grey on a canvas creates a “luminous-body” behind the painting and the results of the “Krone am Gründberg” were not entirely satisfying, the idea was born to use gold leaf instead in order to creat a “luminous-body” in front of the canvas.

The “Krone im Kaiserpark” had, just like the “Krone am Gründberg” (1991) 12 parts. Each part was 4m x 8,5m large, and the whole object had a diameter of 14 meters. In the wake of “Krone im Kaiserpark”, a multitude of paintings involving gold leaf was created through which I captured the key meaning of gold for my vision. A new technique to use gold leaf is created and a new way to utilize it in the context of my vision. 

  • 2002 first exhibition at the art gallery Florian Sundheimer (Munich, Germany). Since then, continuous collaboration with Florian Sundheimer. In the past 15 years, the immersion into the work with gold and colour, and gold as a colour, has strived towards light and the lifting of familiar dimensions in various works of art.

Nevertheless, other groups of work, such as figural paintings, Opus and the crown symbol have been continued simultaneously 


March 2014