In the course of a general refurbishment the underground areas of the Karlsplatz passage were renewed and made more inviting. With the simultaneous opening of Ernst Caramelle’s installation Ohne Titel (Untitled) and the new Kunstpassage Karlsplatz (Karlsplatz Art Passage), an ambitious project came to its conclusion and radiates in new splendor at one of the busiest transit hubs in the city.
Ernst Caramelle’s installation takes up the transient character of this site and its history. At the same time, only because of this does Karlsplatz become a central location for art in public space and the surrounding art institutions.
Ernst Caramelle’s installation opens up a new perspective for passers-by in the redesigned corridor between the State Opera and the Naschmarkt, the U1 and U2, the Wien Museum and the Secession. Instead of rows of shops, as it was before the redesign, the passage now offers a unique and unusual image scenario: a gigantic wall surface with a fresco of fields of color, finely nuanced, which lends spatial depth. The glass wall in front of it and the passageway wall with partial mirroring opposite the painterly wall complex are essential elements of the whole composition.
Ernst Caramelle’s installation reacts to the architectural situation of the long passageway. New symmetries develop for example through the asymmetric fields of color, which give the impression of spaciousness, which the mirrored wall opposite additionally strengthens. The observers, whom the artist includes in his work, experience the composition in always different individual ways and from different perspectives. Without impinging on them in the flow of their walking, the artist invites the passers-by intuitively to engage themselves in a sensuous experience of forms and colors. Even in the early 1980s Ernst Caramelle had begun staging topographical productions. The large-format room paintings play with architectural details such as openings in walls, wall projections and plastering. In these room paintings, which still occupy an important and continuing role in Caramelle’s work, the artist analyzes the location and the rooms for which he creates the works. Colorful, strictly geometrical surfaces form the starting point. The wall becomes as it were an abstract image that again adapts to the spatial demands: the wall as a succession of sequences, fields, color fields and patterns — but also as a succession of pictures, spatial parallel paths, as a score. The wall in the light of its depth of field, its in-depth layering, its color density, the depthlessness of its monad-like pattern.
“A particularly clear example of an anamorphic wall painting is Caramelle’s work for the Karlsplatz Art Passage in Vienna […]. The latter is an underground passageway used by many people, who pour through the corridor at once in opposite directions. […] In this situation, the perception of a wall painting is a distracted and sidelong affair, a perception from the vantage point of practical use rather than contemplative distance; it is a matter of movement, proximity, routine, of darting past, of familiarity and absence of commitment. Caramelle’s painting on the long side wall of the pedestrian tunnel is essentially divided into eight fields featuring simple spatial constellations of the kind that began to emerge in the early 1980s. Fields containing frontal views alternate with others whose views are perspectivally distorted. Depending on one’s direction, it looks as if individual sections had been rotated out of the tunnel wall’s axis to face the pedestrian head on, while others conform to conventional perspective and still others exaggerate that perspective. The entire constellation is designed around the real conditions of movement and use and creates the impression of a broken zigzag wall, and hence the sensation of a spatial expansion and rhythmization of movement. The feeling of expansion and rhythmization is heightened still further by the fact that the wall painting is faintly reflected in the frosted glass wall opposite, while additional mirrors cause individual details to flash into view as one walks past. Interestingly, the painting’s eight fields are arranged almost symmetrically. This symmetry is hardly noticeable to the passer-by, but it gives the work a stability that structures the experience of watching it glide past and stands in for a moment of frontality, just as the frontally organized works contain anamorphic moments.”
Text excerpt: Ulrich Loock, in: Kunst Passage Karlsplatz, p. 201.