August Walla had long been creating images of mixed words and symbols, and used conventional artist’s supplies such as paint and canvas in addition to availing himself of more unconventional surfaces such as walls and the exterior of buildings on which to paint.
He was born in 1936 in Austria, and following the death of his father, was brought up primarily by his mother and grandmother. When young, he had an unsteady mental state and was institutionalized between the ages of sixteen and twenty.
His mother was his lifelong primary caregiver until her death, which affected Walla deeply. They lived in a home near Vienna, and Walla, showing an artistic proclivity early on, covered their home in painted images. In 1970 he moved, with his mother, to Klosterneuburg Hospital and later into the Haus der Künstler (Artist’s House), a domicile where patients who show significant artistic talent live very independently and focus on their creative work.
August Walla’s paintings and drawings show many affinities to contemporary art in his use of bold, striking imagery and aggressively rendered forms, signs, and symbols. He was very keen on language, and foreign words and phrases had a significant and magical meaning to him.
Walla died of cancer in July, 2001 at the age of sixty-five.
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