David Czupryn

Soul Full of Poison, 2016

Oil on Canvas

180 × 130 cm

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Anthropomorphism is a central feature of David Czupryn’s paintings. Distorted and fantastical, the characters the artist paints collapse the boundaries between what is natural and what is manufactured. The hyperreal character at the centre of David Czupryn’s ‘Soul Full of Poison’ was inspired by a figure the artist saw in Berghain, Berlin’s world-famous techno club. Contorted and insect-like, the technicolour smile of the dream-like figure is as synthetic as the polymers of the bright clothes it wears.

The painting’s title emphasises the intense focus on artificiality in Czupryn’s work. Like the dancers in Berghain whose bodies are controlled by drugs, the emotions of this humanoid figure are manufactured by a similar ‘poison’. The lifted ‘leg’ suggests a mechanical, repetitive dance, like that seen in clubs, but also reminiscent of an automaton. In much of Czupryn’s work, the natural is reconfigured to appear synthesised with manufactured materials. Here, this is apparent in the lightbulbs behind the central figure: while their sickly green-yellow glow is clearly evocative of club lighting, they also double as plants growing out of the walls.

The lack of any direct lighting makes the background look flatter, forcing the figure into the foreground, closer to the viewer. Yet the seamless way in which Czupryn has executed the brushstrokes lend the black woodwork a deepness that evokes the enigmatic darkness of a nightclub. The hybrid nature of the dreamscape, with its ambiguous figure and materials, makes for an uncanny viewing experience that is typical of Czupryn’s work.

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