In conversation with Barbara Pflanzner, 2023

Let’s talk about your paintings first. In your artist statement, you describe the body as fractured form meaning to represent a situation or a memory. Can you expand on that?

All my works relate to my own body; as well to the relationship to bodies in general. The pieces have been worked through my body several times, becoming a personal relationship. Painting is not an intellectual process for me. While working, the endless number of possibilities can be overwhelming and I find the intuitive filtering process interesting, in what I am doing through gesture. In what way my own brain start making things up and how I can trigger myself as well as the viewer to make sense of what can be seen is what faschinates me. With what I associate, feel and remember are the three rolling components as I am doing the work but in the end, the works mustn’t be personal. Finding elements which can translate into something more universal is important.

Can you tell me a bit about your way of reduction?

In the very beginning, when I started to paint, my works often lacked contrast. Only later, I gained understanding of how neccesary contrast is to my work, to create a more powerful impact. I tend to muted colors and layer the image with lighter ones, which makes them more toned or vague – it creates a blurriness. If it’s too much of that, the work doesn’t communicate as strongly as I would like. Especially within the last few years, I have improved in trying to increase the contrast in the works. By doing so, there is not just plain darkness but also very much depth within it. With abstraction, you need to know where you draw your inference from – I guess from finding the invisible aspects of the world or my own sense of being, through my working style, through my gestures. The memory of what I imagined as well as the situation I associated with when creating it and what I can see is crucial – the elements of what emerges from the unconscious is captivating, as well as the question of what I don’t show, what, in a way, I have censored and what I make of it.

Would you agree that your focus lies on a sensitive balancing of coloristic possibilities?

I agree. Colors are essential to me. Usually, I start a painting much more explosive than they eventually end up. In the beginning, they are generally wilder and often even stronger in the color schemes. As the process of balancing begins I am trying to distinguish what I can see and further build on. These kinds of invisible traces stem from the unconscious and appear in a way magically on to the surface. But seeking balance has become very important to me. When I look at my earlier paintings they were often wilder than now but also more unbalanced. It is a fine line because I like the rough aspects of the works, which I also want to maintain as much as possible. I need wildness in a balanced way, as ambiguous as that may sound. I try to paint something with both these characteristics that can simultaneously be wild and calm.

In your studio here at Creative Cluster, you are working on large-sized objects. Did you work with objects already while studying at the Academy?

I’ve always done both. The painting just requires most of my time. Working on objects needs space. If you are not working site-specifically in a show room, you need to imagine the space in which the objects should be shown, which is very tricky. Painting is different because a two-dimensional work only requires a wall. Working here in the studio space has been very good. I am really grateful for this
opportunity to work on these new objects. Because the paintings are stored somewhere else, it is the first time I can keep the two media separate and focus on the objects only.

What is striking about the objects is their materiality. What kind of materials do you use for them?

Much of the materials are industrial waste, found, such as this jacket or that mattress which I modify adding self -made materials, concrete and canvas. It is an obsession that I have. I am an opportunist; I seek, look and hunt for things within my surroundings. 


The artist in her studio

It is interesting how the materials can transform and perform into something they never intended to be. It is not so much about finding something and presenting it as it is, it is not a statement. The process of finding, collecting, and scheming opportunities has equal importance to the actual making of the objects. Is more of a game for me to see what specific elements the materials can keep in combination with what I can do with them. All of these objects in the studio still need to be finished; they are still in process.

I like the roughness of them.

Yes, I like it too I am careful not to edit it too much. I don’t want to improve the works into perfection or make them decorative. I like that they are raw in their expression, even to the point of being ugly.
This year I also started to work with concrete for the first time which is quite difficult, as you must be very precise.

Do these works also have a political claim?

Apart from that they all relate to the fractured body residing in a mode of transition, it is also ironic that, on the one hand, I am working with waste material, litter, and scrap directly from the streets, on the other,
combining that with this classical oil painting. So, yes, I guess it becomes a mirror of neo-capitalism.

What are the plans for the next weeks and months to come?

I want to finish and work on the objects here and find ways of experimenting with how it could be presented and documented. And, of course, I am also always painting. So, basically, I am just continuing with what I am doing already. There will not be any new projects until I have finished these works.

PIA VERONICA ǺSTRÖM. THE SPIRIT OF THE PAINTING Oft ist das Ende der Malerei propagiert worden, doch immer wieder erhebt sie sich wie ein Phönix aus der Asche. Die Maler und Malerinnen finden immer wieder neue Wege, der Totgesagten neues Leben einzuhauchen, und knüpfen selbstbewusst an große Vorbilder an. Pia-Veronica Ǻström erzählt Geschichten, die während des Malens aus ihr hervorbrechen. Emotionale Zustände, Gefühle bahnen sich ihren Weg auf die Leinwand, Erinnerungen werden wach. Am Beginn steht aber eine Tabula rasa, eine leere Leinwand, die mit Leben gefüllt werden soll. „Ich muss bei Null beginnen“, so die Künstlerin: „Wie durch Magie, entsteht das Bild aus sich selbst heraus. Das Unerwartete taucht auf, das Bild erwacht zum Leben und der Blinde wird sehend.“ Das Malen ist wie ein manischer Vorgang, alles muss bereit liegen, Farben, Pinsel im Übermaß, nichts Banales, wie die Suche nach dem geeigneten Werkzeug oder einer weiteren Farbtube, soll den Schaffensprozess stören oder unterbrechen. Nur so kann sich das Unbewusste auf der Leinwand materialisieren. Ǻström beschreibt diesen Vorgang als „nicht wissen wollen, was man tut“. Wenn man es am wenigsten erwartet und anstrebt, dann erst kann etwas in Erscheinung treten. Immer wieder tauchen in ihren Bildern vertraute Formen aus den lichten Farbnebeln auf: Felsformationen, Landschaftsversatzstücke oder figurale Elemente. In einem spannenden Wechselspiel aus Hell und Dunkel und mittels intuitiv gesetzter Farbfelder erschafft Ǻström ausgewogene Kompositionen, die durch ihre zutiefst existentielle Dimension und ihre materielle Präsenz zu berühren vermögen. Bewegung und Stillstand, Ordnung und Chaos, all das findet sich in den Bildern der Künstlerin wieder. Genau diese Kombination aus physischer Dynamik und psychologischer Tiefe ist es, die ihre Bilder auszeichnet. Treffend beschreibt Erwin Bohatsch, Ǻströms Professor an der Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien, die Essenz jeder Malerei: „Es geht um die Rückbindung des Gemäldes an die menschliche Existenz mit all ihren glücklichen und tragischen Momenten. So wie Musik berühren kann, müsste es auch der bildenden Kunst möglich sein.“1 Und genau das gelingt Pia Veronica Ǻström immer wieder aufs Neue, uns mit ihren Bildern zu berühren: mit diesen Malereien, die oszillieren zwischen Abstraktion und Bezügen zu den Strukturen, die unserer Umwelt zugrunde liegen. Eng verbunden mit ihrer eigenen Gefühlswelt erschafft die Künstlerin dabei ein neuartiges Universum. Das Bild fungiert als Einladung, uns auf unbekanntes Terrain vorzuwagen. Sophie Cieslar 1 Erwin Bohatsch in einem Gespräch mit Christa Steinle, Erwin Bohatsch. Verläufe. Gradients, Ausstellungskatalog, Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, 2006, S. 55


The woman who killed the dragon, the creature invented by human mind.


The Magician

The woman who spread the jaw of the lion.



Never underestimate a certain regenerative development deriving from the myth.