David Czupryn

Silent Butler, 2018

Oil on Canvas

250 × 180 cm

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Silent Butler by David Czupryn deals with traditional tropes of the history of art, seen through the lenses of the German artist’s signature style: memento mori and the passage of time. The main character is uncannily domestic and familiar – the spectral personification of Death is indeed based on the once commonly spread piece of furniture known as ‘valet stand’ or, translated literally from German, as the more sinister ‘silent butler’ (two Late Roman and Early Modern examples on the next page).

The figure holds a candle in its left hand which, in the genre of still life is a canonical metaphor for the passage of time: if Death decides to blow out the candle, it’s the end. The viewer feels as if suspended in time – Death has taken the candle in its hand, will it extinguish the flame with its chilly breath, or will it let it burn on?

Our gaze moves across the painting, to the figure’s right hand, holding an Alexander Calder’s mobile as a scale – measuring good and bad in one’s life – and underneath it grows a trumpet vine, which Native American Shamans employed to summon ghosts. And indeed, behind Death, there are two ghostly clouds, whispering in its ears and influencing its judgment.

This painting is representative of Czupryn’s practice in many of its features: the pictorial representation of sculpture, the skillfully rendered faux marble, the trompe l’oeil box-like space in which the scene takes place, and the rendition of plant forms as hybrids between nature and man-made.

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