mario dalpra, der rote optimist, 2020, bronze beschichtet und lackiert, 40x30x25

the artist is a globetrotter between cultures, styles and techniques.

as a painter (he studied with arnulf rainer in vienna), sculptor, draughtsman, musician, film and performance artist, he permanently proves his versatile talent, can refer to innumerable exhibitions in europe, the usa, latin america, australia and asia and a no less respectable series of catalogues and publications, which prove the wide-ranging radius of action of the risk-taking, vital art globetrotter around the world:

the vorarlberg artist, born in feldkirch in 1960 and living in vienna for decades, draws from the full. despite all the calculations involved, for mario dalpra art is a source of pleasure, an ever-challenging sensual affair whose universally utilised craftsmanship should not be underestimated. what succeeds, gives satisfaction and stimulates, just like some slips or missteps, to dare the unusual and, thanks to one’s own doing, to rediscover many a grain of sand in this world.

what is expected of the modern viewer, namely openness and curiosity, is sufficiently brought along by the artist, who is interested in change and experimentation and is as vital as he is sensitive. accepting the risk involved, he has from the beginning tested step by step the viability of a multicultural, unifying conception and attitude to life. today, it constitutes dalpra’s artistic identity.

instead of putting his hands in his lap and waiting for a stroke of genius, mario dalpra works a lot and persistently. the fact that he likes to do this lies in his nature, in his understanding of craft, and is certainly not a disadvantage. in this way, his artistic rides, trials and sustained retreats have added up to a resilient arsenal of complementary, coherent visual realisations.

one clearly senses the pleasure of working, the sounding out of terrain that has not yet been clarified and the intensive occupation with groups of works, which, of course, are only kept at and polished as long as their artistic challenges do not run the risk of ossifying into routine and perfection.

equally well versed in art and the world, mario dalpra can today point to a large, broadly diversified oeuvre that ranges within the classical disciplines from sketching and small drawing to painting of all sizes and sculpture and its new-date focal points that shape the entire oeuvre.

the artist’s thematic range and approaches to content are large. they are based in the versatile work process on a compendium of craft skills, techniques and composition-determining formal ideas that are always used with the necessary looseness and much variety.

humour and irony are well scattered and only rarely to be exploited at first go. without them, mario dalpra’s new sculptures in particular would lack the formal and textual ambiguity that distinguishes them in their attractive mix of styles. cast in bronze in indonesia, painted and polished to a high degree of perfection, they reflect an entirely contemporary symbiosis of pop art, smoothed neo-expressionism, minimalist classicism (arp, hepworth, gironcoli), jeff koons, modern emblematics, internet stylistics and the japanese “pokemons”, those small colourful collectible figures for children, in which one can also see a highly successful parody of the modern art market and some of its special products, beyond their actual purpose.

dalpra’s feigned superficial beauty of brightly coloured plastic material in fashionable outfits corresponds with the cultural background of its author, who was decisively influenced by long stays in australia, indonesia and india, in an astonishing use of space in his floor and base sculptures. (peter baum)