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Multi-artist Ton Fink celebrates his 80th birthday

Multi-artist Ton Fink celebrates his 80th birthday

This year may be an interesting but also stressful year for Tone Fink. Anyway, it started well: today, January 1, the painter, illustrator, object maker, performance and film artist, who lives in Vorarlberg and Vienna, celebrates his 80th birthday. On Epiphany, ORF 2 will broadcast a cinematic portrait of Ton Fink at 6:25 p.m., followed by exhibitions and a book on his life's work. Public celebrations do not take place until July.

Strictly speaking, Tone is only 50 years old, because until 1974 the man, who was born in Schwarzenberg in Bregenzerwald, signed his birth name Anton Fink. It was only a journalist who gave him the idea for the stage name. Anton studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with Maximilian Melcher and the great Max Weiler. “He was very assertive and I was kind of shy. And I'm not a painter — he realized that,” the artist recalled in an interview with APA about hours of work on drawing paper until he finally punched the material.

Color has never had much appeal for Tone Fink, but he has a long-standing friendship with paper. “For me, it's all about the paper,” he says, who feels like both “violator and doctor” when dealing with the sensitive medium. Ultimately, he wants “not only to rank the newspaper, but to harass it.” His gentle treatments sometimes leave barely visible marks, but he can also be more rough in his work. However, the way he leafs through the folders he has prepared especially for him reveals an almost physical relationship.

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His mother was always creative, Ton Fink says, and talks about playing the zither, knitting and sewing. The father was a blacksmith and carriage smith, which was probably reflected in his fondness for all manner of moving objects. Ton Fink taught primary school for a year, then qualified as a teacher of visual arts and crafts training and worked in a middle school in Vorarlberg for four years. He then moved to Vienna and has lived as an independent artist ever since – with all its ups and downs. “Being able to make a living from it is also an art,” he laughs.

In addition to Vienna, Fink also has studios in Vossach on Lake Constance and in Schattendorf in Burgenland, where many of his large items are stored in a former ballroom. “The Paper Dancer” is the name of the 25-minute personal film by director Ingrid Bertl, which “Österreich-Bild am Urlaub” will broadcast on ORF 2 on Epiphany at 6:25 p.m. “It's a crazy anniversary movie,” says happily the artist, who can also be seen on a paper throne with a paper crown on his head. Because Tone Fink loves performing too.

A tour of his warehouses in Vienna takes the visitor back to the “plaster period” in which large chariots, sculptures and thrones were made, or with imaginary masks that bring back memories of the processions and movements with which Fink mixed the weeks of festivals and festivals. You should also be able to feel something of this when Personale opens on July 14 at the Bregenz Künstlerhaus Palais Thurn und Taxis and the next day a festival takes place at the Angelika Kauffmann Hall in Schwarzenberg.

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Meanwhile, a new 400-page book designed by Kurt Dörnig will document his life's work to date. About a dozen people work on solo.tone, Tone Fink reports. “The book is a brutal amount of work.” There will certainly be a chapter dedicated to his phase when, as a founding member of the Animation Film Society ASEVA Austria, he taught his drawings to walk. He never achieved such a response again as with his film “Narrohot” broadcast on the ORF channel “Kunststücks”. “A lot of fun – but a huge amount of work,” is how he sums up this body of work. 1500 A4 drawings in 2 minutes!

His Vienna gallery Ulrike Hrubski, who showed his paintings of dried, thorn-like drops in the exhibition “Tone Fink: Farb.bekenner – linien.strichler” five years ago, is organizing a solo show on April 2, as is Galerie Petra Seiser in Schörfling am Attersee is preparing for an exhibition. But he will also be represented by a concrete chair in the sculpture garden in front of the main entrance to the Venice Art Biennale, where he says: “I'm really happy about it! Tens of thousands of people will pass by it…”

(Service – “Paper Dancer”, January 6, 6:25 p.m., ORF 2; www.tonefink.at)