David Czupryn

Alternative Lifeforms, 2018

Oil on Canvas

280 × 480 cm

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Alternative Lifeforms is emblematic of David Czupryn’s beginnings as a sculptor. However, in this painting the figures are assembled not from elements of his own works, but those of other artists. This is a provocative move in Czupryn’s style, which with its near invisible brush strokes makes the image appear to have been cast as one integral whole, eliding his own painterly expression whilst cannibalising the minds of others. In this way, the products of human creativity seem to take on a life of their own, frenetic and exuberant.

Czupryn’s humanoid figures therefore also seek to question the limits of human intelligence and toy with the shortcomings of our biological existence. The question of survival is implied by the presence of these four lone caryatids, which the artist imagines as the sole survivors of the bombing of a Düsseldorf museum in. Czupryn’s muses are recreations of artworks by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Lygia Clark and Georg Herold, titans of the history of modern art. Their exact meanings are unclear: are they hieroglyphs with coded meanings, symbolic quotations, homages paid by Czupryn, or simply formal devices?

In this context, the title is a vital clue. ‘Alternative’ stands not only for the possible future that Czupryn imagines, but the fact that these objects contain a parallel energy to that of the original sculptors and sculptures. As products in which their creators live on, these anthropomorphic figures embody character and agency and continue the practices of art, architecture, writing and music. They can be understood as the survival of human intelligence, beyond our somatic existence, whilst human remains and signs of civilisation litter the floor. The question of whether it is possible to program culture and creativity is posed (quite literally in the proscenium structure of the picture).

the artist

David Czupryn (b. 1983, Germany) graduated from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 2015 (2007 – 2015) and has been working closely with ARTUNER ever since. In 2021, he received the prestigious Rome Prize from Villa Massimo, the Germany Academy in Rome, where he completed a yearlong residency.  Recent exhibitions include “Jänner” (feat. Katharina Beilstein) at the Villa Massimo (2022) and “Five Figure Fantasy” at the ICA Miami (2022). 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 mainly informed by research into 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 resulting brushstrokes are invisible. Indeed, the surface of the painting is very flat, while also conveying a sense of depth 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 painting techniques, particularly trompe l’oeil, as taught by McKenzie. There was a turning point in his subject matter in 2012, when he saw a late Gothic grisaille painting of a sculpture. At this point, he took his earlier sculptures out of storage and started portraying them in painting. Surrealism and Metaphysical art (especially Salvador Dalì and Giorgio de Chirico) are likely the first points of reference that come to mind when looking at David Czupryn's paintings. However, the artist names the most important sources of inspiration as the works of the photographer Diane Arbus and American artist Matthew Barney.

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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 12th, 2019 until
October 30th, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER