"The comb spatulas I use are an anonymous tool, they enable me to work without a 'personal signature'."

In preparation, Jakob Gasteiger applies his paint thickly to the horizontal support and then, with the help of a cardboard comb spatula he made himself, removes this paint from the canvas; only where the comb has its indentations does the paint remain. 


This approach, as well as the result of the paintings, illuminates a conceptual-minimalist aspect of painting. The colour is not applied gesturally, expressively and supposedly with the recognisable handwriting on the picture support, no, it is taken away in an anonymous mechanical act of painting, the gesture takes place solely in the movement of the comb and does not allow the painter to be recognised in his expression behind it.
And yet the resulting works are more than pure painting. They are border crossers between panel painting, sculpture and relief. When Gasteiger repeatedly mixes conventional materials of sculpture (iron, glass, aluminium) into his colours, he brings the genres into a coherent connection of his own. It is an experimental approach to form, colour, space and material. This expansion of the concept of painting can certainly be described as conceptual asceticism.


Jakob Gasteiger lives and works in Vienna and in the “wine quarter”, the so called “Weinviertel”, the area below the Manhartsberg (the mountain of Manhart), located in the northeast of Lower Austria

born 1953 in Salzburg, Austria


1970-1974 University of Music and Performing Arts, City of Salzburg

1990 Faistauer Prize for Painting of the Federal State of Salzburg

1995 Prize winner of the 24th Austrian Graphics Competition Innsbruck

1999 Prize of the State Capital Innsbruck at the 26th Austrian Graphics Competition

2017 Recognition Award for Fine Arts of the Federal State of Lower Austria

2019 Great Badge of Honor for Services to the Federal State of Lower Austria


Text of the catalogue for the Venice Biennial Arts Festival 2013 (by F. Steininger):


“As solitary position in the nineteen-eighties, Jakob Gasteiger dissociated himself from the general canon of Neo-Expressionism by casting out onto a minimalist, abstract path in his painting. Monochromism played a major role here, colour as opaque structure of the picture surface, painting as process, aloof from the emotional and personal gesture. These attributes can also be found in the protagonists of radical painting, first and foremost Marcia Hafif, Günter Umberg and Joseph Marioni, who press painting into service as analytical practice. English has two differentiated words for the German word “Farbe”: colour (as optical value) and paint (as tactile value). The pictures of these artists are caught up in this interplay. What they also have in common is a stillness and emptiness, a rejection of pictorial information and expression of the artist as creator. Just as central is the factual and objective reality of the artwork, an artificially created thing among other things, and not a mediator of content, of illusionary or metaphysical information.


The decisive impetus is always the handcrafted type of work invested in the painting: Jakob Gasteiger’s gestural idiom restricts or concentrates itself mostly on drawing the comb through the previously applied paint paste, so that an anonymous, mechanical method predominates. The individual touch seems to be pushed fully into the background. Seen from this classical perspective – as Rembrandt or de Kooning use the brush, for instance – the concept of painting is difficult to apply to Gasteiger, despite all painterly qualities and effects visible on the picture plane. Perhaps it might be better to talk of “making” or “producing” pictures, without excluding the personal impetus, the physical effort of the artist during the work process. The tracing of the comb is evident in the end product, the trail is visible. Sometime Gasteiger integrates dynamics and verve into his pictures by using his instrument to delineate arcs and circle formations in the paint paste. The body’s entire effort is inscribed in the work as it encounters the tough resistance of the previously applied pastose paint layer.”

Art Fairs