Globetrotter between Cultures, Styles and Techniques



As a painter (he studied with Arnulf Rainer in Vienna), sculptor, graphic artist, musician, film and performance artist, he permanently demonstrates his multifaceted talents, can boast innumerable exhibitions in Europe, USA, Latin America, Australia and Asia and a not less impressive number of catalogues and publications, which illustrate the widely spanned radius of action all round the world of this risk-loving, dynamic artist-globetrotter: Mario Dalpra.


Born in Feldkirch in 1960, the Vorarlberg artist who has lived in Vienna for decades drinks life to the lees. Despite all the acumen that is needed, for Mario Dalpra art is pure pleasure, a constantly challenging, sensuous concern, whose universally used component of handicraft should not be underestimated. Whatever succeeds brings satisfaction and stimulates him – just as do slips or lapses – to dare the unusual and, thanks to his own doing, rediscover quite a few grains of sand in this world.


What the modern viewer expects, namely openness and curiosity, is not in short supply from this artist, as vital as he is sensitive and interested in change and experiment. Right from the start, he has wholeheartedly accepted the risks involved here, trying out step by step the viability of a multi-cultural, interdisciplinary and cohesive approach and attitude to life. This is the secret of Dalpra’s artistic identity.


Instead of crossing his arms and waiting for a stroke of genius, Mario Dalpra works hard and indefatigably. The fact that he loves doing this, that this is his nature, his love and understanding of handicraft, is quite certainly no disadvantage. His artistic ventures, experiments and sustained practice have culminated in this way to form a resilient arsenal of visual realisations that are coherent and complementary to each other.


You clearly feel his intoxication with the work, the sounding out of not yet defined terrains and the intensive preoccupation with work groups, which of course he perseveres with and hones only as long as their creative challenges do not run the danger of petrifying in routine and perfection.


Soundly based and equally well-versed in arts and in the world, Mario Dalpra can today boast a large and wide-ranging oeuvre which within the classical disciplines spans over sketches and small drawings as well as paintings of all sizes, sculptures and the core themes of recent date with their formative influence on the complete works.


The thematic range and conceptual approaches of the artist are extensive. In the multifaceted work process, the themes are resourced by a compendium of skilled handicraft, techniques and composition-defining aesthetic inventions, always availed of with the necessary coolness and much versatility. 


Humour and irony are scattered throughout and are rarely exhausted of connotations at first glance. Without them, Mario Dalpra’s sculptures, especially the new ones, would lack that formal and conceptual ambiguity that marks them in their fascinating stylistic mix. Cast as bronzes in Indonesia, painted, ground and polished with high-grade precision, they reflect a totally contemporary, zeitgeist-transported symbiosis of pop art, smoothed neo-expressionism, minimalistically deployed classicism (Arp, Hepworth, Gironcoli), Jeff Koons, modern emblematic studies, Internet style and Japanese “Pokemons”, those little figures collected by children, where you can also catch a glimpse beyond their actual purpose of a highly successful parody of the modern art market and quite a few of its special products. With Dalpra, the illusory, superficial beauty of the garishly colourful plastic material in the fashionable outfit corresponds alongside the baffling utilisation of space shown by his floor and plinth sculptures with the cultural background of an author profoundly influenced by his long periods in Australia, Indonesia and India.



Peter Baum