Martin Walde was born in Innsbruck, in the Austrian province of Tyrol in 1957. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna with Max Weiler and Arnulf Rainer. He was awarded the Otto Mauer Prize in 1991. In 1998 he received the City of Vienna’s Prize for Fine Art. After repeated sojourns in Paris, he makes his home today in Vienna and in New York.
Walde has been working in the media of drawing, object art, installation, and, recently, also in video. In contrast to the currents prevailing in painting during the 1980s, when he defined his artistic practice, he now uses words in reflecting on visual signs. He connects the semantics and syntax of language and pictures in unorthodox ways. Walde considers drawing as a thought experiment in visual communication allowing for the transfer of actual aspects of reality into utopian possibilities. He works in a narrative way yet at the same time deconstructs popular narrative culture by applying irony and a utopian perspective, reminiscent of stories from comics. Walde was already a participant in the "Aperto 86," as part of the Biennale di Venezia in 1986, and in the "Chambres d’Amis," a legendary exhibition held in a number of private rooms in Ghent, Belgium. In 1989 he exhibited a series of storyboards, "Animal Farm/Bremer Stadtmusikanten" in combination with an installation at the former chambers of the Generali Foundation. The influence of the world of cartoons shows up in a two-piece installation entitled "Raumbeule/Transportable Hole" (1988), which arcs out through the contrast between black and white into a seemingly concave and convex space and counter-space bursting optically through the surface of the wall. A "transportable hole" was used as an escape route in the cartoon film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Walde’s aesthetic is fascinated by interstitial areas, by mundane objects and unstable materials and draws its inspiration from intrusions into everyday events that diverge from the norm. His sculptural objects possess an ephemeral character and, like his installations, are, aimed at being sensually experienced by the viewer, for whom the artistic fiction only becomes real by actually interacting with the objects. At the "Documenta X" in Kassel, Germany, in 1998, Martin Walde placed small, haptic, "graspable" objects beside his drawings, along with an installation composed of organic materials, flour, and worms, which were being irradiated by green light. (Doris Leutgeb)