David Czupryn

Traffic Circle (Gilets Jaunes), 2019

Oil on Canvas

210 × 250 cm

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While David Czupryn’s paintings might seem still lifes treading the border of surrealism and abstraction, the anthropomorphic characters emerging from these scenarios are often very poignant from a political standpoint. European politics in particular is a topic that concerns the German painter and, indeed, that is precisely what is explored in this oil on canvas. Through his peculiar and mind bending vocabulary, Czupryn revisits one of the best known masterpieces of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, ‘The Burghers of Calais’ in the light of two of the hottest topics in French politics of recent years, that are not only shaking the country from the ground up, but put in jeopardy the stability of the European Union itself: the so-called Calais Jungle and the Gilets Jaunes protests.

Building his inspiration from images sourced from news outlets, Czupryn created some collages, or ‘mood boards’, as he calls them, pasting together widely circulated – iconic almost – photos with unexpected elements: an angry mob wielding crowd control barriers mirrored with a man holding the National tricolore, an image of a victorious Macron, with a riot police helmet instead of his own head… instead of the brave, but resigned Calais townsmen of Rodin’s bronze, Czupryn’s characters are not yet done fighting. In fact, they are right where it all started: protesting on a roundabout mound, some sporting the Anarchy symbol on their back (the protester on the lower left). The background is on fire, burning with both literal flames and the blazing leaves of autumn: the atmosphere is palpable and it feels closer than ever to breaking point. And yet, in all the havoc, not all hope is lost: on the right hand side, one of the protesters wears a much more powerful symbol, that of Peace.

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

March 12th, 2020 until
April 26th, 2020
Curated by ARTUNER