B. 1960, Austria
Leopold Strobl was born in Mistelbach, Lower Austria. He has devoted himself exclusively to art for more than thirty-five years, and has been a guest of the Open Studio program at the Gugging House of Artists in Vienna for more than a decade. He draws in the morning and single-mindedly finishes a new piece per session. This aspect of his routine relates directly to his chosen format (most works are approximately 4.2 x 3.9 inches). Strobl always renders his drawings—or the component parts of his paper collages—on carefully selected newsprint clips, which he then adheres onto clean drawing paper.
The underlying use of published media furnishes Strobl’s works with different pictorial facets and layers of meaning. Under his hand (and an intuitive grasp of light effects and the interaction between solid colors and transparencies) a few of the printed motifs emerge while others are obscured under the more abstract execution of the whole. Perhaps the signature formal feature of Strobl’s work is his incorporation of bold dark masses that create overpowering negative spaces of sorts. These dark areas, which the artist outlines and colors before everything else, are sometimes an integral part of the landscape. Other times, they seem to be mercurial matter that could be handled like dough. In the human-less setting of Strobl’s vision, these abstract volumes—which occasionally emulate basic humanoid forms and gestures—are arguably the nonfigurative, malleable main characters. Furthermore, they drive Strobl’s virtuosic awareness of perspective and framing. We only see what we are allowed of these landscapes because the artist places us at specific points of view that we must come to terms with. This negation of omniscience, which expresses a very postmodern sense of relativity, constantly reminds us of the partial nature of every story.
Present in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York) since 2018, Strobl's work was presented the following year in the exhibition Photo Brut at the Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles.