Hugo Canoilas, Kapsch Contemporary Art prizewinner 2020, transforms the exhibition gallery into a walk-in stage for painting. The entire floor is laid out with cloth on which the artist has painted a scenario of interlocking flowing forms with island-like centers. The blue ground and the fantastic tentacular and colorful creatures in paint and glass look like a lively maritime landscape with unfathomable depth. In the times of the corona crisis, which has elevated social distancing to a new principle of survival, we are here drawn into an inescapable painterly biosphere that combines seduction and danger, and also the organic and technoid all in one space. This floor painting is not only a stage for viewers to experience both art and their own selves; it is also a performance space for a show developed by Elise Lammer and Julie Monot, on the invitation of the artist. In BECOMING DOG, the performers are dressed as dogs and explore new potential for empathy within an institutional space. Canoilas’s combination of painting with strategies of installation and performance is evidence of an expanded concept of painting based on an awareness of contemporary social and political developments and of the appertaining philosophical and art-historical discourses. These take a critical view of our world order shaped by humanism, with its hierarchical structures of values, and they advocate an empathetic approach to nature and all creatures and animals.
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