I trust in Painting
I trust in Painting
I trust in Painting

Johanna Kandl


Dom Museum Wien


Modern and Contemporary art

On view

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Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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On the meaning of pictures

Johanna Kandl depicts a street scene in the pilgrimage site of Loretow and asks questions about faith, trust and the impact of pictures.

Whit Sunday in Loreto: Johanna Kandl documents the activities on the piazza of the Italian place of pilgrimage. Photographic snapshots served as models for the monumental panel with a street artist’s pavement paintings, Fiat vintage cars lined up for a car blessing, and one of a number of sisters in uniform assisting with the blessing of the sick in the open air. The triad of blue, red and white tones harmoniously interconnects both the figures and the elements of the scene.

The pictorial stage is tilted toward the viewer. From an elevated point of view, the gaze wanders across the devotional pictures in chalk and the squadron of Fiat cars to the souvenir stands along the upper margin of the panel. It is no coincidence that the street artist, the “madonnaro,” has copied a famous Annunciation scene, i.e., a painting by Orazio Gentileschi in Turin’s Palazzo Madama. For, as legend has it, the house in which the announcement by the angel to the Virgin Mary occurred is to be found in Loreto: when the Holy Land fell under Muslim rule, the house is said to have been carried to Croatia and then across the sea to Italy by angels. The author Gabriele d’Annunzio advocated the idea of declaring the Madonna of Loreto the patron saint of aviators and astronauts.

Short statements in handwriting declining the English verbs “to trust” and “to believe in” are scattered across the surface of the picture. Which contents of belief have made the various protagonists of the picture visit Loreto? The center of the picture confronts us with the inscription “I trust in painting.” Is this an allusion to the artist’s personal conviction of her painting’s social effect?

Turning into field-workers, as it were, Johanna Kandl and her husband Helmut Kandl have made it their concern to visit places of pilgrimage all over Europe, where different people with different expectations concerning the power of places and images come together. Believers also find all forms of souvenir copies endowed with the ritual power of devotional objects.