Toby Ziegler

Failed design for a ouija board, 2017

Oil Paint on Aluminium

158 x 285 cm

Artist proof: 5


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Artwork
Description

In 1936, Walter Benjamin asked: what happens to the work of art when it is exposed to mechanical reproduction? Toby Ziegler’s work may be read as part of this questions’ lineage. Yet, now, the question must be reworked: the artwork must be considered in relation to digital reproduction. Ziegler’s response to this question involves modifying the conditions by which canonical artworks are known. The works of Matisse are jolted out of a limitless digital stream; placed into a setting where they may be reconsidered and reexamined.

Who did Ziegler want to contact with his attempted ouija board? The spirit of Henri Matisse; the dancers of ‘La Danse’? Or does Ziegler mean to suggest something else: is this a dance we are looking at, or a séance? Ziegler recalls the interpretation of ‘La Danse’ that aligns it with the dance macabre, the dance of death. Having been subjected to Ziegler’s process of obfuscation, we are left looking at ‘La Danse’, but also at figures linked together in a circle: the image re-appropriated by Ziegler for his own ends. Thus, the work compels us to question our preconceived suppositions. In the moment of perception, we look through the pink lattice at something we both know and don’t know.

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