Hamburg: Gert and Uwe Tobias at Der Kunstverein through November 18, 2012

February 29th, 2012

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2011). All images courtesy of Der Kunstverein.

The entirety of Der Kunstverein is currently inhabited by the dark and fantastical world of brotherly duo Gert and Uwe Tobias. On view until November 18 is their largest installation to date, taking over a total area of 1,300 square meters, spilling from both exhibition areas into the foyer and stairwell. Over time the exhibition will slowly recede to make room for other exhibitions and by the end of the year the work will remain only in the foyer and the stairwell. The Transylvanian born-, Germany-based twin brothers work with a range of forms from works on paper—collages of disjointed figures, eerie watercolors, and drawings created by typewriter strokes—to large scale woodblocks of otherworldly creatures, and abstract assemblage sculptures. Each medium explored is imbued with qualities of the surreal, a dark haze of gloom, and a touch of whimsical humor. Their practice is rooted in the decorative, patterned, and pictorial qualities of Eastern European folk art. Also embedded in their work are allusions to art historical moments such as Constructivism, socialist architecture, and Expressionism.

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2010)

The Tobias brothers work both separately and together, passing paper works back and forth between their separate studios until complete, and creating large scale woodblock prints together in the studio they share. Thought there is no sole ownership, and their body of work has a coherent aesthetic as a whole, both Gert and Uwe see themselves individually in each piece.

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2011)

Their distinctive woodblocks display an intense color palate, large size, and disturbing yet poetic scenarios often involving creatures that appear at the same time cartoonish and mythical. The prints are created using a “puzzle” technique, comprised of numerous blocks combined to make one image. Imperfections resulting from the printing process are kept, adding texture and a sense of nostalgia.

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2011)

Works on paper are equally dreamlike, evoking a murky atmosphere. Watercolor washes create haunting landscapes where mysterious figures appear in pen and paint, their features sometimes embellished with characters from a typewriter. Collages are arranged on top of washed out backgrounds, and figures rearranged with animal parts are reminiscent of the surreal collages of Max Ernst.

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2010)

The brothers also play with the shapes and forms of letters, some works feature typographical characters enlarged and removed from their original function of language. Letters are also used to create features on figures and some works are entirely created out of the strokes of a typewriter.

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2011)

Gert and Uwe Tobias, Installation View

—A. Wilkinson

Related Links:

Exhibition Site [Der Kunstverein]