Work and life

*1982, January 15


Fink’s oeuvre consists almost entirely of pencil drawings, and its primary focus is on highly detailed and laboriously composed maps. In the first years of his artistic work, he created drawings of animals and people as well as vehicles and everyday objects. However, Fink did not limit himself to these motifs: He also immersed himself in a fantasy world and created human-animal hybrids. These mostly female fantasy creatures – such as a Donkey Princess, A Female Monster, or Uni-Horn-Woman – look directly out at their viewers or mischievously toward them in profile. With their invented words, the pictures’ titles already suggest the artist’s interest in language. Fink’s (punning) wit is omnipresent: “Der Stift ist Gestiftet von der Stiftung” (very roughly: “The pencil fund is funded by the foundation”). The stylistic element of these texts, with their freely associated rhyming phrases, was introduced into his art in 2006, and the thickly drawn capital letters repeatedly fill in the otherwise empty background. The artist additionally creates self-portraits, inserting himself into the series of representations of fantasy creatures. His interest in the environment, his surroundings, in places, in tourist sights and in related facts also revealed itself early on. Fink’s interest in geography, which was shaped by his father’s profession, has culminated in the primary motif developed in the artist’s oeuvre since 2007: the map. These large-format pencil drawings generally cover the entire picture plane and show countries, regions, and cities, such as Vienna, southwestern Styria, Lower Austria, or Canada. The artist sketches keenly observed geographical data on his maps: Mountains, lakes, streets, churches, towers, public institutions, bridges, tunnels, trains, and many other things find their way into Fink’s cartographic index. They are depicted two- or three-dimensionally, in distorted perspective, from a bird’s-eye-view, frontally, and in profi le. Furthermore the artist rotates the paper multiple times while drawing, which means that some of the works contain text written in different directions and some buildings appear to be standing upside down. Fink establishes a system of hierarchical proportion and in a certain sense an anamorphic map, that is, a cartographic depiction whose scale varies. In doing so, he depicts important details – for example, ships in the Atlantic Ocean – as larger relative to other content (such as continents).

The streets and their cars are invested with particular signifi cance and often spread across the entire picture plane like a spider web. The motifs’ labels make it possible to identify mountains, lakes, and towns; at the same time, future construction projects like the U5 subway line in Vienna even become visible. Leonhard Fink’s art expands the (chronological) horizon and carries viewers off on a journey into a fantasy world.


Leonhard Fink was born on January 15, 1982. He grew up with his parents and four siblings in the Lower Austrian town of Weidling (now part of Klosterneuburg). His father is a geographer and geologist, which also explains Fink’s great interest in these subjects. Fink attended the Hauptschule (basic, lower-level secondary school) in Weidling; his knowledge of English, which he repeatedly employs in the texts in his works, goes back to this schooling. He received psychiatric treatment for the first time at 17, and this is also when he created the first drawings exhibiting signs of his artistic talent. In 2001 he began regularly visiting the open atelier gugging, where he soon arrived at his own distinctive and very succinct form of artistic expression. In 2007 he began creating his first maps, which represent the most important works in his oeuvre. Fink is represented by the galerie gugging, and his works have been exhibited in the museum gugging since 2012.

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