Born in Salzburg, Austria Meet self-taught visual artist Anton Winzer

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anton (Toni) Winzer, a self-taught artist from Austria. His story and his path in the art world is a fascinating one.

By Al Gord

Rainy Day Hospital Vibes

Toni, please start by telling us a little bit about you.

The short answer would be, I am Anton, my friends call me Toni and I am artist.

I will also attempt to provide a medium to long answer. I was been born in Salzburg, Austria, in the year of 1959. In the late years of grammar school my teachers told me and my parents that I was very talented in visual arts.

At the age of 14 I was given the opportunity to receive a grant for participation in the Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts. The opportunity was rejected by my parents, they wanted their son to be an engineer not an artist.

Becoming an engineer was totally against my talents. So I decided to boycott on my parents decision through learning the profession of an ironworker in the Industry, building trucks and lorries. That decision made me financially independent from my parents.

After extended sick leave (2014/2015) due to exhausting work in outpatient care (personal assistance for people with disability, family support services and housekeeping), in November 2015 I decided to live and work exclusively as a freelance artist (painting, photography, digital art).

In 2016 I started my feed on Instagram. Only one month after I started that, I’ve got an invitation from a gallery to take part in an Exhibition ‘PHOTOGRAPHY NOW’ in London. My pieces got great acknowledgement and a comment from art historians. They said, that I have a unique contemporary reinterpretation of De Stijl in a new context creating vibrant and intense pieces.

Shake Hands

Since then my digital pieces have been shown in digital displays at the ‘Barcelona International Art Fair 2016’ and in two shows, one in L.A. and one in NYC. Two of my pieces had been printed in the book ‘Contemporary Art of Excellence, Vol. III’. Unfortunately those events taught me that there are many sharks swimming in the sea of art, longing for emerging artists money and maybe their future fame as well.

I received an invitation to participate at the ‘Florence Biennale 2017’ but I couldn’t attend because the time had been too short for crowdfunding. Also at the same time I was invited to participate the ‘Annual Dutch Art Fair’ in Amsterdam, in October 2017.

So it looks like my artwork has an international recognition and I feel honoured and happy about that.

I noticed that you have experimented with various media for your work. Do you have a preference and why?

My preferences are limited only by my wallet, but not by my imagination and creativity. I see my artwork as an ongoing experiment. I would love to paint more, but I don’t have the money at the moment to pay the paint and sizes of canvas I have in my mind. But it will come, I am sure.

I work mainly in digital photography and digital painting. In that field I try to break down the borders, purists keep alive in their narrow mind. Borders, artificial made, between painting and photography and at last digital artwork.

I think that the old masters who influenced my work, like Goya, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Kandinsky, Miró and Mondrian, if they would have contemporary abilities to express themselves, they would use the same contemporary media as I and most contemporary artists use. Imagine that!

You have referenced your work as being that of the De Stijl movement. Can you share with us what the De Stijl movement is and how this transfers over to your art?

This year, 2017, the art world celebrates the centenary of the foundation of the De Stjijl or Neoplasticism movement. That group, around Mondrian and Van Doesburg and other painters, writers and architects, looked for a more universal expression in any of the different branches of art. Simplicity through abstraction into clear lines, through that into simple forms and basic colors, primary colors and black and white.

The idea of that kind of clarity accompanies me since my early 20th. Since a while I bring the idea of simplicity and the reality of dissolution together. Especially when I ‘dissolve’ a good/bad digital photo into something abstract together with the primary colors, black and white.

Experimenting that way brought me to the extraction of the basic or primary colors out of color photos. That’s another form of dissolution. I also use in some of my works swirls or other form changing elements to dissolve the former photo.

Further in my paintings I bring together the ideas of De Stijl, the impulsive abstraction of Jackson Pollock and the ideas of the color theory of Itten. The results out of that are very impressive. But this is on ice this time.


I remember reading that you took a break from art. What brought you back to art and where does your inspiration come from when you are creating a work of art?

That break took nearly 20 years after my solo exhibitions of photographs in Salzburg and Munich. I did press photography and advertisement photography at that time. When I heard that I will be a father in some months, a strange idea of responsibility blew through my mind.

My work as personal assistant brought me back on the track. I worked together with handicapped people in their homes. One of them is a mouth painter and assisting him brought me back into my own creativity again. But that job has been very intense, psychical and physical, and my longing for doing artwork went to zero and ended in a burnout, followed by a serious depression.

My depression forced me to end all activities that didn’t contribute to my inner wealth, so I decided to only be an artist. What came after that decision is still unbelievable for me. It’s like a volcano being closed for a long time, erupting and my creativity flows free now and uninterrupted. Experiencing that is simply wonderful.

My inspiration comes out of every corner I am surrounded with. In my opinion even ‘dirt’ can be made to look interesting and beautiful.

I know that for me, certain pieces have special meaning. Do you have a piece which you feel is especially rewarding or which has personal significance to you?

Normally I like all my babies equal. I feel like I have learnt and stepped forward through everyone of my pieces.

There is one that has significance and has a meaning or better a connection to a special time in my life. It’s a painting, a self-portrait I made short after my depression. I said to myself, most great artists have made a self-portrait in the last part of their lifespan, so why shouldn’t I do it earlier. I made that in times I decided to be only artist, whatever it takes, like ups and downs. It hangs above my computer and I see it as daily reminder.

Art is very personal. Is there any message that you hope others take away from your art?

It’s the message of beauty. Beauty within everything, even inside dirt or a kitchen sink or the process of dissolution. That’s a feedback I often get from followers of my artwork.

After the thunderstorm is before the thunderstorm

From what I understand, you are also a published author. Can you tell us a little bit about your book and the motivation for writing it?

Only two of my pieces have been published in the book ‘Contemporary Art of Excellence, Vol. III’. For that I had to pay, like all other artists published in it, too. It’s a good business for the publishing agency! They earn from the published artists and from selling the book on Amazon. That had been one of the experiences I made in the last year. Costly, but an experience I’ll never repeat.

In conclusion, is there any advice you can give to your fellow artists?

Yes – never, really never pay others, like agencies or galleries, for showcasing your art. In my opinion they are the only ones who profit. If you think your art is good and unique, why you should pay for showing it?

You can’t speed up to become popular or famous. Maybe you will not become popular or famous this lifetime. The right people will see your work at the right moment! Until then work as much as possible. Don’t narrow your view, instead make it bigger and more wide.

Use social networks to show your work! It is free and it is global! Before the time of the internet it has been much harder for artists to be seen. I know that, because when I started there had been no internet, not even computers. So use what is there and what is free. Instagram has around 700.000.000 members, what a market place! It’s a good thing too, to see the work of others and how contemporary art is defined and expressed now.

I wish you all much luck! But most of all, total satisfaction in what you are doing and all the joy resulting out of that feeling!

Connect with Anton (Toni) Winzer

About Al Gord

Al Gord is an up and coming artist who lives in Toronto, Canada. He has been a featured artist twice in Niji Magazine. Al has exhibited pieces in shows from Toronto, Canada, and New York, New York to the United Kingdom. He combines abstract techniques with figurativism to create Iconic Rock Portraiture paintings. Other series include Modern Romantic Expressionism and his works which focus on mental health awareness and advocacy. Regardless of the subject matter his signature style is clearly recognizable. His work is showcased on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook where he welcomes inquiries, questions, and feedback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


I agree

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.