Before – that is to say, before the war – Mrdan Bajic`s

Klaus Pinter and his curious flying machines
Klaus Pinter's artistic approach is as distinctive, unusual and extravagant as his installations,
which, for more than forty years, have been floating free of passing fashions with fluidity,
plasticity, lightness and humour – borne along by the aesthetic currents of the time, but
immune to their attraction.
In founding the Haus-Rucker & Co group in Vienna with two architects, Pinter placed himself
on the margins of art's pure forms and autonomous works. He was a precursor of the
"installation", in other words the placing of a work in a given situation or context (even if
virtual). Right from his first "pneumatic" structures, the inventor in him was inspired, if not
assimilated, by the poet. And throughout his career he has carried on in this vein with
consistency and rigour, in forms and modalities that are continually renewed. The "pneumatic"
nature of his installations is actually to be taken in an etymological sense, as referring to a
vital breath, a soul; and not just because they are infused with an ideational process, but
because they overfly (and sometimes collide with) history and culture. These ephemeral
installations, real or utopian, are ephemerides of modernity that are in dialogue with the past.
Collision Berlin-Centre, 2005, was a large, semi-translucent sphere that levitated in an apse of
Berlin's oldest baroque church, the Parochialkirche, which the ravages of time have robbed of
its stucco decor, leaving it looking like a Romanesque construction. The big bubble reflected
light and echoed the sobriety of the place, but contrasted, in its delicacy, with the weightiness
of the stone and its charge of history.
La Conquête de l'air, 2006, which was created on the occasion of the Mozart year in Vienna,
marked a change of register and tone. Besides the composer's aerial lightness, Pinter was
celebrating the century of the Enlightenment and the facetious folly of rococo. In the courtyard
of the Albertina he installed a transparent inflatable structure whose form suggested a hot-air
balloon, alluding to the fact that Mozart's lifetime, which saw culture attaining an
unprecedented level of refinement, corresponded to the period when industrial civilisation was
taking off, and when humans were able, for the first time, to overcome terrestrial gravity. The
captive balloon, with its elegance and crystalline purity, was arrayed in burlesque elements –
chairs and decorative gilded fragments that produced an effect of asteroidal dust.
And one will also, no doubt, recall the imposing Rebonds installation that Pinter created in
Paris in 2002 for the severe, majestic setting of the Panthéon. Into this frozen temple of the
Republic, designed by Soufflot and completed by Quatremère de Quiny, which honours Great
Men and materialises in marble the aesthetic canons of neoclassicism, he introduced the
mischievousness of mannerism. His gigantic pneumatic sculpture, mounted on a helical
armature, and placed in the centre of the nave, reproduced the decoration of the building's
concave vault in a convex anamorphosis. Illusionist reflection or historical rebound?
Rotor, 2007, is a sort of "bachelor machine" designed for the Pièce Unique gallery in Rue
Jacques Callot. Unlike Pinter's previous installations, it does not occupy an historical setting,
but has surreptitiously insinuated itself into this enclosed space like an unidentified flying
object made up of four different-sized spheres in virtual rotation round an oblique axis.
The mechanical appearance of the work, the precision of its design and the rigour of its
execution confer on it an industrial character reminiscent of a machine tool. But its pneumatic
envelope, carefully folded, gives it a playful aspect that suggests a huge spinning top in
precarious equilibrium, surmounted by a condom. Is it a rotating propeller, a giant dragonfly
from some other place and time, an alien's parachute or a model for a new tower of Pisa, soon
to be constructed in Shanghai or Dubai? Hard to tell. In fact this non-identifiable object is
more likely to make one think of the first flying machine dreamt up by Leonardo da Vinci. Or
one might be reminded of the helical perspex sculptures made by the brothers Gabo and
Pevsner, though there is something wild and baroque about it that is a long way from
constructivist austerity.
What is disconcerting, but also fascinating, about Pinter's work, and what underlies his
originality, is the exactitude that is the mark of the engineer or the architect, combined with
the imagination of a poet and a penchant for derision.
All things considered, Klaus Pinter is not so much an extraterrestrial artist as a volatile
synthesis of Jean Baudrillard, Professor Calculus and Alfred Jarry.
Yves Kobry
(Translated by John Doherty)