Gert & Uwe Tobias at Kunstverein Hamburg
Der Kunstverein, since 1817.
Woodcut on paper, 216 x 194 cm.*
For the Kunstverein Hamburg, Gert & Uwe Tobias (*1973 in Brasov, Romania, live in Cologne) have developed an installation that turns the entire premises of the building into a fantastic headspace. From the foyer, up the stairs into the two exhibition halls, their works will be presented from January to April 2012 over a total area of 1,300 square metres. This exhibition is the biggest undertaking for the two artists and their largest exhibition to date.
Part of their installation will then disappear to make room for presentations by other artists until, by the end of the year, only the foyer and staircase remain. What all these exhibitions (by Alexandra Bircken, Florian Baudrexel and Manuel Graf et al.) will have in common is the shift between seemingly folkloristic and handicraft-oriented everyday practices and constructivist abstraction.
Since completing their studies, Gert & Uwe Tobias have been collaborating in drawings, ceramics, and woodcuts, which they assemble into overall installations, often held together by coloured walls and spatial interventions. They are associated not only externally but also in folkloristic motifs that they are taken from collective societal structures, memories and traditions. They can even be inspired by their mother's knitting patterns. Domesticated motifs, which the two transfer to their woodcuts and typewriter drawings. Their woodcuts are produced as puzzle prints, a method in which the picture is produced from a block composed of separate elements. Only two prints are produced of each woodcut, flying in the face of mass production. Gert & Uwe Tobias set up a poster before each exhibition which the viewer encounters like a signpost. Like the cover of a book, it opens up the surreal space to the visitor in which the narration of the individual elements unfolds.
Other aspects in their exhibitions also have pragmatic points of departure: they present their small-scale ceramics largely on plinths that have a second one in the form of everyday objects. Some grow like bottle djinns out of vases, others stand on plates or butter dishes and coffee pots. The ceramics are not unrelated to household porcelain: there is a resemblance in their materiality and processing. Everyday life with its everyday objects as the basis of existence.
The also small-scale drawings with their blurred contours have a dreamlike quality, as well. The sketches and drawings give the impression of being preparatory works for the woodcuts and stages on the road to attaining the greater abstraction needed to give motifs graphic form. It is not by chance that letters, too, repeatedly occur in their works as graphic abstractions par excellence. What is initially unformed and quiescent is more and more strongly conventionalized in pattern form. But also abstraction that gives a home to dreams.
11 May – 2 September 2012
The Kunstverein is funded by Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg – Kulturbehörde.
Courtesy Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin.
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002, USA