Toby Ziegler

Failed study for a ouija board, 2017

Oil Paint on Aluminium

83.7 x 107 cm


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Artwork
Description

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Most of Ziegler’s paintings are permeated by a sense of illusory familiarity.  ‘Failed study for a ouija board’ makes no exception. Drawn from a limitless digital stream and placed onto an aluminium panel – as is Ziegler’s usual practice – Matisse’s paintings glimpse at the spectator from the background.

However, the sense of familiarity is almost immediately derailed by other elements in the composition. What does the ouija board in the title exactly stand for? Does it refer to an attempt to conjure Matisse’s or his dancers’ souls from the hereafter? Or, differently, does it indicate that we are looking at a séance, recalling the interpretation of Matisse’s La Danse as a dance macabre? Similarly, the meaning of the pink oblique stripes is also somewhat mysterious. They could evoke both the convulsive movements through which the ouija board supposedly speaks, or a pentimento of the artist, as well as the grid employed by some Renaissance painters in the preparatory stages of their artworks.

The questions are doomed to remain without an answer.  Part of the reason is that Ziegler’s works are intentionally idiosyncratic. Though they aim at perfection, they never achieve it completely. And they are not ashamed of showing it, elevating erasures and pentimenti to integral elements of the composition.

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