Cityscapes as you’ve never seen them before, built from luxury watches, sapphire pools, and other media prescriptions for the perfect life.

Vienna-based artist Gabi Trinkaus uses magazine cutouts to comment on the superficial idealism that is the default in today’s media. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and the US, including most recently at Georg Kargl in Vienna, GSA Stockholm, and Galerie Jamuschek & Partner, Berlin.

“Paradise With a Limp” is on view at Claire Oliver Gallery, New York City, through June 28, 2014.

All images used with permission, all rights reserved, copyright © the artist.

The Morning News:

You’ve described yourself as a “media thief.” When is art not re-appropriation?

Gabi Trinkaus:

To me, works dealing with social commentary are not imaginable without re-appropriation of some kind or other.


Do you buy magazines with the primary intention to use them for your collages? Or do you source material from whichever magazine you happen to buy?


Both and neither. Actually, since a rather large amount of source material is needed even for a single work, I would never be able to acquire this by only buying them myself. I have several of “my girls” collect materials. Once they are ready for a clear-out, we have the magazines picked up.

I also do buy favorite magazines for myself and later use them after I am finished with them. This is the way it started originally. In some cases, when looking for something special I need for a particular work, I will also sneak through the pages and buy whatever magazine works best to continue or finish.


Your pieces previously focused on human portraits. How has your process changed as they’ve shifted to city landscapes?


Honestly, it hasn’t really changed. I might have introduced more visible over-drawing in some of the recent black-and-white landscapes, which I never do in the portraits, where the drawing is only underdrawing. And yes, with the landscapes I broadened the range of my source material. Flyers changed their commonly annoying character to being a welcome gift found on the doorknob every morning.

To understand how these seemingly different topics are connected, one has to realize that I am working on media images or—more correctly put—”media reality,” meaning that media, especially advertising, induces an image of something like a perfect world. I understand media as a wish-creating industry.

Looking at my work through this, let’s say, particular magnifying glass, the thought behind the different subject matter is pretty much the same. Whether a portrait carries all this “fashion advice” found in beauty ads, or the nightscape contains swatches of luxury goods, brands, party weapons, and occasionally a bit of porn—it is about how all things in life are made into carrying commodity character.

In this way everything seems pre-produced already: the media telling us what to want, what to aspire to, what to own, what we should have in order to create a successful, satisfying life. And to me this seems like a very flaky concept.


And what makes a perfect swatch?


First the fact that it fits where I need a match. And certainly also the message that might whisper an especially flaky piece of beauty advice or “must-have” lifestyle. Or promise of some kind of paradise or eternity. I am always especially happy for these text-finds which serve as a tool for instant-irony.


What are you doing tomorrow?


Literally? Sleeping in and packing my suitcase for my trip to New York for the opening of my show at Claire Oliver Gallery. Or concerning my work? Well, since I always step from one topic to another to keep my interest fresh, I suppose I will do some portraits and “body portraits” again. I did start with male portraits a while ago and am looking forward to continuing that series.

Karolle Rabarison is at home wherever she can satisfy her coffee habit. She currently lives in Washington, DC. More by Karolle Rabarison