David Czupryn

Baton Blows, 2018

Oil on Canvas

260 × 360 cm

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Baton Blows is a reinvention of the Egyptian Surrealist Mayo’s 1937 Coups de Bâtons. Czupryn has been remarkably faithful to the original. His composition and battling forms are identical to Mayo’s; they just appear crisper without the patina of history.

Czupryn has appropriated the same symbolism the Egyptian Surrealists mobilised in their fight against the twin evils of fascism and colonialism. Mayo’s spindly, angular figures were not just born out the artist’s interest in the formal concerns of modernism but aimed at deconstructing the ‘ideal’ bodies of fascism and colonialism. The concrete fences which flank the scene are a jarring emblem of British oppression, they hem the fighters in and provide a brutish backdrop to this painful struggle.

Czupryn has pushed these elements to the fore. In his interpretation politics has acquired a quite literal materiality. It is a war waged between actual not abstract bodies, their physicality clear in the insistent wood grain on their surface. Here, wooden is not a byword for stiff, but instead represents some organic living (and livid) essence. The material is embedded with symbolic meaning: there is Egyptian mulberry wood, cedar from Lebanon. One reclining figure has been crafted in tamarisk – a wood traditionally used in the making of funeral caskets. The painting is shocking: every surface is depicted with Czupryn’s virtuosity, and an acuity that suggests the sharpness of fiction is truer than fact.

The sky is another departure from Mayo’s original work. These arcs of radiating tesserae have the appearance of a mosaic, but also recall pixels. This only adds to the surreality of the action, which becomes like a scene in a video game. Baton Blows thus calls up the digital forum in which political skirmishes now take place, from the initial waves of the Arab Spring which reverberated around twitter, to the Facebook ‘echo chambers’ of recent elections. Czupryn has painted a Coups des Bâtons for this century: a reminder that the past can come back to life with horrifying clarity and vigour, an uncanny resurrection of history.

the artist

Born in 1983 in Germany, David Czupryn graduated from the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in 2015 (2007 – 2015) and has been working closely with ARTUNER since then. In 2016, he was the recipient of the 70th International Bergische Art Prize with a solo show at the Kunstmuseum Solingen in October 2017. In the same year, he was part of two shows featuring new works at the collection Uziyel in London and Palazzo Capris in Turin, both curated by ARTUNER. In 2018 his first major solo institutional show, He She It opened at Kunsthalle Darmstadt. He lives and works in Düsseldorf. In his surrealist paintings David Czupryn creates fantastic worlds, inhabited by humanoid hybrids and built with materials found at the intersection between nature, man-made polymers and imagination. His practice is mostly informed by a research of the uncanny, conducted from a mostly ‘visceral’ perspective. Indeed, although interested in psychoanalytical theories, Czupryn does not explore them in his works. His technique is seamless: the ‘layer method’ employed by Czupryn is very meticulous and the brushstrokes result invisible. Indeed, the surface of the painting is very flat, while also conveying a sense of deepness and richness of the materials depicted. The synthesis of nature and industrially engineered materials is a very important aspect of the artist’s work. David Czupryn started his artistic career as a sculptor, with Prof Georg Herold and later decided to focus solely on painting in the classes of Professors Lucy McKenzie and Tomma Abts: he stopped sculpting altogether and put all his artworks in a storage. For months, all day long, he would practice on painting techniques, trompe l’oeil in particular, as taught by McKenzie. There has been a turning point in his subject matter in 2012, when he saw a late Gothic grisaille painting of a sculpture. Then, he took his earlier sculptures out of storage and started portraying them in painting. Surrealism and Metaphysical art (Salvador Dalì and Giorgio de Chirico in particular) are undoubtedly the first points of reference that come to mind when looking at David Czupryn's paintings. However, the artist’s most important sources of inspiration are the works of the photographer Diane Arbus and American artist Matthew Barney.

In his surrealist paintings David Czupryn creates fantastic worlds, inhabited by humanoid hybrids and built with materials found at the intersection between nature, man-made polymers and imagination.

David Czupryn
on Artuner

Part of the

October 30th, 2018 until
January 6th, 2019
Curated by Leon Krempel