“Illusion of the fire"

 “The fire, the art and the knowledge"


The artist Thomas Girbl “plays” with the fire. The environment is “modified”, the putatively divine spark guarantees obviously and touchable and change with the viewer.

What labels a person, what is the essential difference to the animal? There are theories, which mean that it was the contact with the fire which allowed us to take the step from the instinct-steered primate to the civilised social being. Contact with the fire means to guard, to nurture and to control it: to give a frame to the shapeless element, in which it can be effective for us.

The fire as a life process at the same time with the destruction potential inside, is an eternal fascination. Not for nothing we call our metabolism processes combustion, with its stop we are dead.

Medium of the creation act

An artist like Thomas Girbl, whom the fire makes not the object of his representation, but rather the medium of the creation act, wants to introduce us with his works immediately to our existential, to the heart of our liveliness. If he modifies our environment by scorching, burning down, crusting of paper and colours, he transforms the smouldering devine spark in us all into visible and touchable forms.

Starting with an education as an engraver which he has concluded after trainings in Graz and Cologne with the examination for the master’s certificate in Innsbruck, his wide interest appeared by continuing studies in Vienna and Prague. A trip to Australia to pursue nature studies there, led to defining impressions which pushed him on to face up deeper with the experienced elemental power of bush fires.

The paintbrush became the flame, the pigment the glow, the paper out of the surface became the space-reaching and comprehensive element. The results are intentionally, but they seem to be casually or by light- and colour spots psychedelic-provocative projection objects – as well as we interpret shadow and history in clouds.

The Philosopher Eugen Maria Schulak, who has accompanied the opening of the exhibition with the title “Illusions of the fire” in the art space Dr. David, concedes to the artist as well as to his audience the possibility of the experience of transcendent conditions in congress. “Not coincidental it is a practical person of the philosophy who sees his job to provide possibilities for the perception of new points of view and with it to the examination of positions for his clients, who feels called upon giving an understanding of Girbl’s work to the viewers in the rooms of a psychiatric practise”, comments the host, Senior Consultant psychiatrist Harald P. David MD in Vienna. “Where, else, it is more about of bringing light and movement in little accessibly areas of the inner life.”

If already Karl Valentin criticises, that a photograph of the fire can not be shooted easily because it does not keep still, also one thing becomes clear to the people in the entourage of the fire and the works of Thomas Girbl: The fact that one cannot see the same flame twice because every view like this as well changes the observed thing as oneself and leaves its traces, movement and modification happens unavoidably.


Senior Consultant Harald P. David MD – Art Space David MD