For the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Gert & Uwe Tobias (*1973 in Brasvo, Romania, living in Cologne) have developed an installation that makes the entire location something of a window into the fantastical contents of their minds. From January to April 2012 their work will stretch from the foyer to the stairwell and into both exhibition areas, filling a space of some 1,300 qm. After that, parts of the installation will gradually retreat to make room for other exhibitions. By the end of the year their work will remain only in the foyer and the stairwell.
Since completing their studies, the two brothers have been collaborating in drawings, ceramics, and woodcuts, which they assemble into overall installations, often held together by coloured walls and spatial interventions. They are associated not only externally but also in motif. In each of their media they explore the creatures of surreal imagination and fantasy. Mostly they are figures that, although close to humankind, have distanced themselves from humanity. Sometimes these protagonists grow precariously upwards from vase or vessel-like components, some even need a stick to keep standing; sometimes collage elements from magazines are inserted in drawings that replace parts of the body. This produces a form of abstraction proper to fantasy, foreshortening at some points and extending immeasurably at others. See the heads sitting atop these constructions, which bear horns or have long, runny noses.
Folkloristic motifs are taken from collective societal structures, memories and traditions. Gert & Uwe Tobias can even be inspired by their mother’s knitting patterns. Domesticated motifs, which the two transfer to their woodcuts and typewriter drawings. These are two laborious, indirect methods that work with overlap. Their woodcuts are produced as puzzle prints, a method in which the picture is produced from a block composed of separate elements. Only two prints are produced of each woodcut, flying in the face of mass production. Gert & Uwe Tobias set up a poster before each exhibition which the viewer encounters like a signpost. Like the cover of a book, it opens up the surreal space to the visitor in which the narration of the individual elements unfolds.
Other aspects in their exhibitions also have pragmatic points of departure: they present their small-scale ceramics largely on plinths that have a second one in the form of everyday objects. Some grow like bottle djinns out of vases, others stand on plates or butter dishes and coffee pots. The ceramics are not unrelated to household porcelain: there is a resemblance in their materiality and processing. Everyday life with its everyday objects as the basis of existence. What if everything around us were alive’ Not only in childhood fantasy can teapots suddenly speak, become surreal projection surfaces.