Sebastian Holzhuber is a visual artist born in Vienna.
He studied painting at the Alanus Academy of Arts and Social Science in Bonn and monumental fiber sculpture with Magdalena Abakanowicz in Poznan, Poland. He studied with Atum O’Kane, receiving training in ‘Art of Spiritual Guidance’ and ‘The Alchemy of Transformation’. He has lived and worked in Austria, India, Poland, Spain, Greece and in Amsterdam since 1979.
Holzhuber’s work has been displayed internationally in more than 150 solo and group expositions. For example:
1988 Neue Galerie, Wien.
2004 Corpus Christi - Deichtorhallen, Hamburg.
2008 Exitus - Künstlerhaus, Wien.
Since 2015 he has been collaborating with the pianist Uzi Heymann in over 100 art projects. More recently, their collaboration has developed into interdisciplinary performances combining visual art and classical music. Their work has been presented in, among other events, the Fringe Festival 2017 and 2018 in Amsterdam and the Festival of the Austrian Embassy 2018 in The Hague.
Till now he creates weekly transformation projects, individual or with groups.
I am fascinated by beauty. So I understand the healing process, which people in the New Rituals experience, as an ode to beauty.
Through the rituals one can get more connection with one’s own nature, which in my opinion is pure, original, sensual and creative. In the process to ones true essence, longing and trust are keywords. Equally important elements in this empowerment and liberation rituals are playfulness and humor, intimacy and closeness.
My projects are subtle processes in which one gains an insight into the deeper layers of the being: the soul. It is about genuine connection, completely open, without restraint; that is my
paradise. The holy fire needs to burn, without fear. Stand in the middle of it. My projects are prayers.
Life as a joyful apocalypse
How should you get along with your demons? Should they be banished? Should you fight them? Or should you cherish your demons and wash their feet? These are the questions Holzhuber confronts us with. Holzhuber throws us back onto ourselves. We have to search for it within. And what we encounter is our own battlefield. And the only consolation is that it is the struggle which makes us human.
Others about Sebastian Holzhuber
Klaus Elle, multimedia artist:
Holzhuber is someone who revels in studying our cultural myths; spiritually, physically, psychically. He is a solar synthetic. He stages a broader insight into the development of artistic possibilities. Practicing psychology and therapy, he disturbs because the neurotically disturbed are close to his heart. He no longer fits the standard mold. He has experienced first-hand that psychedelic herbs do not grow on the well-trodden paths of institutionalized spirituality.
To save the world we must first save ourselves and once again unlock the channels to transcendence, with lust and love, in trance and in silent meditation, with art and deepened insight into the laws of the cosmos.
sieger baljon, chairman New Rituals foundation, poet, theatre maker, performer:
He knows his way with the images of the soul
Sebastian Holzhuber himself has been bumping into (former) monks and nuns for all his life, with as a shining highlight his longtime muse and neighbor Helena who had lived for thirty years in a strict order before they met. The synergistic spiritual-artistic relationship Sebastian and Helena ended up in would provide a profound direction for his further art and life. Not surprisingly, the image of the monk or the nun would pop up in his work time and time again.
A connection is forged between this older work and the more recent project, which saw its genesis after the death of Helena. Together with classical pianist Uzi Heymann and many other remarkable people around him, the play with the inner monk or nun was confronted. Holzhuber takes advantage of the image of the monk to research the backside of monotheism in our lives, however secular this life has become nowadays. The screaming monsters under our habit; the tenderness between seekers in faith; the extermination of pre-christian earth-centered religions; the trauma of Christian antisemitism; the tense relationship with 'evil'; the perverted power relationships between believer & messiah or its priests; the (homo-) erotic charge of certain saints, or of Jesus in pieta or at the cross; even the long denied dinosaurs appear to have finally found a spot in this subversive iconography.
Red thread is the image, as a residue of the transforming human Holzhuber with his new rituals has devoted his life to: the transforming human that always has formed his most important working material. That being said, another aspect stands out: never before Holzhuber himself has stood out so visible in the centre of his work, seeking, playing, embracing. Out of all this work speaks above all the childlike joy and the contagious humor of playing around in the iconographic playground. After all, like Jewish shaman Jesus of Nazareth spoke: 'unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom'. Sebastian Holzhuber knows how.
Prof. Dr. Manfred Kremser, cultural anthropologist and researcher on rituals, University of Vienna:
New Rituals create a space for celebrating life and for recognizing individuals and personalities in their deeper layers. We seek to bring out these deeper layers visually into the external world. For each participant there is an individual journey of discovery and identification. For the group the entirety of the ritual act becomes a mutual experience.
The whole point of New Rituals is to step away from the world of words. Only then can we act in a holistic way, activating all our senses. Only then can we genuinely draw from our complete human experience and gained insights. As a result we can give form to what we otherwise could hardly even begin to express, and can shed light on what would otherwise be very difficult to heal”.
Dr. Silvia Anner-Aentres, author on science and culture, Vienna:
The ritual as an expedition into the inner self
Sebastian Holzhuber‘s oeuvre is manifold and complex regarding his pictures created from photographs and illustrating condensed moments of primary self-awareness as well as his powersticks formed out of ritual objects he has collected all over the world.
His current work focuses on the ritual reflected in the widespread spectrum of an archaic act of the interconnected collective based on the mystic magic of tribal cultures, as ascertainment of the contextualization of one’s own in life as well as a concept of celebrating certain key moments in life being experienced as essential. Comparing to traditional rituals Holzhuber’s rituals don’t resort to existing definite forms of expression within a specific cultural area.
The artist, who was born in Vienna and is now living in Amsterdam for 40 years, creates his ‘New Rituals’ rather as work in progress together with the participants and out of their inner creativity and imagination.
For the artist, whose work is also influenced by shamanic knowledge, traditions of the Sufi and elements of therapeutic pedagogy, ‘New Rituals’ are in essence an invitation to start a journey into the inner self, an adventure discovering landscapes of the soul, of the subconscious and in particular the so far undeveloped human potentials.
Marco Ploeger, philosopher:
It is the struggle which makes us human
How should you get along with your demons? Should they be banished? Should you fight them? Or should you cherish your demons and wash their feet? These are the questions Holzhuber confronts us with. Holzhuber throws us back onto ourselves. We have to search for it within. And what we encounter is our own battlefield.
And the only consolation is that it is the struggle which makes us human.
Gert Jan de Jong, architect:
Sebastian's greatest art is really the way he lives. I consider him to be a master in the art of living; an Austrian going out onto the edge of an abyss with no fear of falling down, or climbing the highest mountain without an oxygen mask.
Prof. Dr. Elke Liebs, librarian, literary scholar and psychotherapist Berlin:
The entire corpus of the broad artistic production of Sebastian Holzhuber, from its beginnings until today, is marked by his genuine sense of curiosity about the lives of ordinary people as well as the “meta-language” and transmutations of natural and artificial materials.
Thanks also to his familiarity with therapeutic processes, S. H. has developed an expansive image of human beings that has in turn sharpened his sense of the range of human feelings and behaviours. This is coupled with an acute intuitive capacity to lead others out of their everyday limitations towards an unexpected form of dis-closure, which literally brings them “to themselves” and opens up hidden sources of the self. Here a crucial distinction may be important: it is not he who posits something within them, but they who themselves disclose their perhaps buried inner resources, their fears and yearnings as well as their stifled creativity and unconsciously repressed passions.
At times it even seems reminiscent of the great masters of art history and the magicians of the written word as they offer us their beauty, their pathos and their carnivalesque laughter at themselves and the world.
Ton van der Kroon, coach and writer:
Sebastian is a great inspiration in my life. He opens a universe beyond words, beyond morality, beyond masks. Behind and beyond these outer circumstances the world of the soul opens up - the great unknown - a world full of inexhaustible colors, emotions and sensory experiences. Life in its full rawness, intimacy and closeness. In his studio in Amsterdam, Sebastian creates a passage to a world where most do not dare to go, but where we all are ultimately part of: a brotherhood of (wo-)men: naked, beautiful, rich and loving.
A world we desperately need.