Saturday, 11 December 2010


On my last trip to Berlin i was on a walk and something caught my eye in a enormous modern upstairs window. It looked like a Miro painting on the wall inside i was mesmerized by the bright colours and abstract shapes i had to get in to have a look! After a few circles round the building desperately searching for a concealed entrance in this modernist box i found a buzzer and was let in to one of the best exhibition spaces i have ever seen! Its was the CFA contemporary fine arts. The next step was trying to find the staircase through a labyrinth of blinding white monolithic sliding walls. I scurried upstairs to discover it was not Miro but polish twyns Gert and Uwe Tobias.

'For the viewer encountering works by Gert & Uwe Tobias, a surreal and bizarre world opens up: the wood engravings and collages show carnivalesque heads with runny noses and pointed hats, ghostly faces in diffuse light and elongated, colourful, fantastic figures. In geometrical exaggeration and abstraction, they stand like scarecrows or wooden toy figures before a monochrome background, or constructive and simultaneously decorative matrices and grid-like structures.'
Not only embroidery, lace and national costume find their way into the works; the folklore element is also the source for their preferred artistic use of wood engraving, that has been known in Europe since the fifteenth century. However, the traditional medium is subjected in Gert & Uwe Tobias’ works to a completely new dimension and a reinterpretation. In contrast to the conventional method of printing, the forms of figures previously developed on a small scale are graphically reduced and scanned in so as to be transformed into the larger medium. Individually coloured boards made of poplar, which are put together individually like a puzzle, emerge manually as compositions in an edition of two, without a press in a kind of stamping procedure. Through the individuality of the separate pressings they thus become, in a certain sense, one-off works.

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