Toby Ziegler

Failed Design for a ouija board (2), 2017

Oil Paint on Aluminium

171 x 280 cm


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Artwork
Description

A prominent feature of Ziegler’s works is that they are intentionally idiosyncratic. They aim at perfection – however artistic perfection should be intended – but they constantly miss the target. And they are not afraid of showing it, letting erasures and pentimenti emerge from the composition.

‘Failed design for a ouija board (2)’ makes no exception. Matisse’s works glimpse at the viewer from the background, but they are unexpectedly crossed by a pink lattice, as if to indicate that the pictorial attempt is – as the title suggests – failed.

Ziegler’s iconic style traces back to the origins of his career, when, struggling to find a distinctive artistic lexicon, always craving for a perfection that could never be achieved, he decided to let his works’ imperfections emerge to the surface. Thus his artistic vocabulary was born, and, together with it, that sense of strangeness which accompanies the illusory familiarity of his paintings.

What does the ouija board exactly stand for? Is it an attempt to recall the spirits of Matisse or of his dancers? Or is ouija board just an empty word, a trick, originated ex post in the mind of the artist by virtue of the resemblance between the oblique pink lines and the convulsive moves through which the board supposedly speaks?

There is no objective answer to such questions. The only solution is to switch rationality off, and participate in the mysterious dance the painting invites us to.

About
the artist

Toby Ziegler (b. 1972) is a British artist who lives and works in London. He graduated from Central St. Martins School of Art and Design in 1994.

Ziegler’s practice encompasses both painting and sculpture. His work involves the manipulation of perception: abstraction and figuration fraternise, classical compositions surrender to digital reworking. Ziegler begins with mined Internet images and coerces them into material form, fashioning an exchange between the virtual and the actual. The starting point may vary: Matisse, Constable or Dutch still-life. Once selected, however, the image is inscribed onto either canvas or aluminium panels by Ziegler’s own hand, an intricate and meticulous process that allows for the appearance of the artist’s own idiosyncrasies. Following the application of paint, the image is subject to a period of erasure, which Ziegler refers to as: evacuation. Evacuation involves the use of correction fluid or a metal grinder in order to distort and degrade; reducing the image down until Ziegler deems that what is left is, necessary.

Ziegler’s works are terrains both familiar and strange: the transformative process designed to test the limits of imitation against a Neo-Platonic system of ideals. This is what underpins the sequence of images, which loop on LED screens in many of his exhibitions. The screens recite the conversion of the originally selected source material into Ziegler’s own works, and then the permeation of that work into popular culture. The suggestion being that contemporary art and pop culture are the by-products of the same – imperfect – process of imitation.  For Ziegler, it is the duty of the artist to interpret the mechanisms behind this process, to reveal all its mimetic and degraded nuances.


Ziegler’s works are terrains both familiar and strange: the transformative process designed to test the limits of imitation against a Neo-Platonic system of ideals. This is what underpins the sequence of images, which loop on LED screens in many of his exhibitions. The screens recite the conversion of the originally selected source material into Ziegler’s own works, and then the permeation of that work into popular culture. The suggestion being that contemporary art and pop culture are the by-products of the same – imperfect – process of imitation.  For Ziegler, it is the duty of the artist to interpret the mechanisms behind this process, to reveal all its mimetic and degraded nuances.


Toby Ziegler
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

February 28th, 2017 until
April 15th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER