Brigitte Kowanz

Born 1957 in Vienna, Austria. Died 2022 in Vienna, Austria



Born 1957 in Vienna, Austria

Died 2022 in Vienna, Austria

With her artistic oeuvre, Brigitte Kowanz assumes a unique position in contemporary art. Her work can be described as conceptual poetry. Light as the origin of all life represents, for her, information, and design of space-time. Since the 1980s, light has been central in her work as an artistic medium, which she explores in relation to space and in combination with signs, codes and language. 

For Brigitte Kowanz, light is a means for transcending boundaries and elaborating artistic expression. She questions the conventional understanding of imagery and painting and forges a new integrative relationship between work, space and viewer. Light makes everything visible, while at the same time remaining invisible. Light defines places but has no place itself. Kowanz explores the unfathomable and ephemeral with analytic passion. Light is impossible to pin down, light is in flux, and light is certainly ubiquitous. 

Tapping into the conceptual dimension but also the poetic allusions of her objects and installations, the artist examines the mechanisms of language. To this reciprocal reflection of light and language, she often adds real mirrors, so that reality and virtual reflection merge and the boundaries between artwork and viewer become blurred in the work exhibited. Kowanz uses mirrors as a kind of meta-medium of visual rendition, in the sense that mirrors, through the merging of real space and virtual space, bring forth an infinite number of images, breaking spatial boundaries and rendering them immaterial. Light, language, and mirror constitute three elements which, that combined, enhance ad infinitum the possibilities of self-transcendence and fusion.

Brigitte Kowanz, lived and worked in Vienna. She studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna from 1975 to 1980 and was a professor there from 1997 to 2021. In 2009, she was awarded the Österreichischer Staatspreis (Grand Austrian State Prize for Fine Arts) and in 2017, she represented Austria at the 57th Venice Biennale, together with Erwin Wurm. In 2018, she was awarded the German Lichtkunstpreis and the Cairo Biennale Prize in 2019. Selected solo exhibitions have taken place in the Schlossmuseum, Linz (2022), Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich (2020) and the Museum of Modern Art Foundation Ludwig, Vienna (2010). Brigitte Kowanz developed well over 50 installations for public spaces, most recently at Zurich SBB (2021) or on the roof of the Leopold Museum in Vienna (2020).