Contemporary Fine Arts is pleased to be able to announce an exhibition with new works by the twin couple Gert & Uwe Tobias who were born in 1973 in Brasov (Romania) and today live in Cologne.
For the viewer encountering works by Gert & Uwe Tobias, a surreal and bizarre world opens up: the wood engravings and collages show carnivalesque heads with runny noses and pointed hats, ghostly faces in diffuse light and elongated, colourful, fantastic figures. In geometrical exaggeration and abstraction, they stand like scarecrows or wooden toy figures before a monochrome background, or constructive and simultaneously decorative matrices and grid-like structures. ‘
The artists, who have been working together as a team since completing their studies at the Braunschweig University of Fine Arts in 2001, employ folklore elements - an interest that can be traced back especially to their critical engagement with their home in Siebenbürgen (Transylvania) and its traditions. Complex groups of works arise, such as ‘Come and See Before the Tourists Do - The Mystery of Transylvania’. In the collages and drawings, at first a figurative vocabulary is developed that finds its continuation in the wood engravings, sculptures and typewriter drawings. The artists’ cosmos of images includes also ground paintings and wall paintings, as well as posters. These are created individually for each exhibition and presented together with the exhibits in a kind of spatial Gesamtkunstwerk. ‘
Not only embroidery, lace and national costume find their way into the works; the folklore element is also the source for their preferred artistic use of wood engraving, that has been known in Europe since the fifteenth century. However, the traditional medium is subjected in Gert & Uwe Tobias’ works to a completely new dimension and a reinterpretation. In contrast to the conventional method of printing, the forms of figures previously developed on a small scale are graphically reduced and scanned in so as to be transformed into the larger medium. Individually coloured boards made of poplar, which are put together individually like a puzzle, emerge manually as compositions in an edition of two, without a press in a kind of stamping procedure. Through the individuality of the separate pressings they thus become, in a certain sense, one-off works. ‘
The characteristic polyvalent interpretability of the images is thus brought about in the media, and also formally, by the juxtaposition of archaic and modern formal languages borrowed from the art of the twentieth century. The surreal manifestations and borrowings from the diabolical and simultaneously comical components of medieval carnival are clothed in geometrical structures and grids, and the human physiognomy is constructivistically abstracted from in their geometry. The figures go through a special rhythmization, for instance, in the large horizontal wood engraving printed on canvas which, with its breadth of six metres, enables a choreographic sequencing of fantastic figures and thus a kind of ‘static dynamics’ reminiscent of Oskar Schlemmer’s stereometric figures. ‘
The artists’ innovative play with the cliché of trivial folk art is thus based on the simultaneous questioning and examination of the formal language of the ‘low’, as well as the ‘high’ modern art of the twentieth century.