Continuing in their uniquely distinctive practice that weaves printmaking, installation, sculpture and typography, twin brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias are currently exhibiting a selection of new work at Team Gallery in New York City.
The Romanian-born, Köln-based brothers frequently situate their work at the intersection of a variety of influences. Prominently featuring the aesthetics of their native ancestry, the brothers take these influences, and bend them through the lens of their studies in art history, contemporary theory and conceptual practice. Their works are a fusion of collective and personal memory, utilizing the cultural imagery of their Romanian heritage to inform their abstract collages, paintings, prints and sculptures. Even their approaches pay homage to older cultural forms, imbuing the practice of woodblock printing with a new life beyond its traditional modes of expression.
Taking up both of Team’s downtown gallery spaces, the show offers a cohesive overview of the Tobias brothers’ recent work. Their expansive selection of pieces are arranged along straight lines drawn across the gallery walls, offering a point of differentiation for each installed piece to define itself against the geometric parameters of the space itself. Through this line, the pieces are united in a system of correlation, each expressing its own position while remaining tied to the whole.
The works themselves follow in the brothers’ distinctive imagery, blending legendary characters with abstract landscapes, printed still-lifes with peculiar, ready-made glass sculptures, and a selection of enormous paint and woodblock print works. Of particular note are a selection of darker, macabre images; distended bodies, grotesque creatures, and fearfully rendered human forms dominate much of the work on view, stuck between any discernibly familiar form. The effect is overpowering, creating an image that feels trapped between the monstrous legends of antiquity and the equally horrifying contemporary portraiture of artists like Francis Bacon.
Pulling from this broad aesthetic background, the work of Gert and Uwe Tobias becomes an exercise in polysemy, standing somewhere between defined cultural location and the broader, shared histories of contemporary art. Combining Romanian history with a rigorously diverse practice, the brothers Tobias offer a body of work that blends personal nostalgia and memory with a strong body of scholarly practice.