David Czupryn

Neophytes, 2018

Oil on Canvas

240 × 180 cm

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Highly influenced by Surrealist and Metaphysical art, as well as the work of the photographer Diane Arbus and American artist Matthew Barney, David Czupryn’s paintings take a visceral vantage point from which to explore the world of the uncanny.

Having trained both as a sculptor and a painter, Czupryn is in a unique position to mind-bendingly explore the potentialities of three-dimensional artworks as represented on canvas. Indeed, an integral part of his practice consists of reinterpreting seminal sculptural works from both ancient and contemporary times, translating them into the extremely flat surface of his masterful layer painting technique.

Neophytes pays homage to Capricorn by Max Ernst, a sculpture the artist created when he first migrated to the USA. The work, now exhibited in museums as a bronze, was originally fashioned out of found materials such as milk bottles and then cast in concrete and scrap metal to sit as guardian in front of Ernst and Dorothea Tanning’s tiny house in Arizona, US. It represents a Holy Family of sorts, with a King, Queen and a rather unclear smaller ‘Child’ figure, thought by Tanning to be their dog, as the couple didn’t have any children of their own.

Czupryn’s inventive eye for materials recreates the sculpture in an intersium of different qualities of marble and wood, while introducing a disquieting aura of hostility to this originally protective, almost totemic sculpture. Indeed the King, instead of a welcoming lap, features the studs typical of hostile architecture, with splintered glass bottles on the floor and his face vandalised with spray paint. This dark reinterpretation makes one consider the fate of migrants today as compared to that of Ernst and Tanning’s times.

A spark of hope is however present: the neophyte plants that, not present in the original sculpture, instead populate Czupryn’s painting are in fact a reminder that even foreign bodies can adapt and thrive in non-autochthonous environments.

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

November 1st, 2018 until
January 6th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER