In his artistic practices, Toby Ziegler is interested in the relation between an object, its image and the space in which it exists. The (digital) circulation of images, and in particular the reproduction of artworks, as well as the loss of information that can occur during their successive transmissions and transformations, is a subject at the heart of his work.
In his fourth solo exhibition with Galerie Max Hetzler, Ziegler presents a new body of work that considers the human predisposition to look for pattern and meaning when confronted by apparent chaos. A group of eight paintings, two sculptures and a two-channel video take a google image search of French 17th Century painter Georges de La Tour as a starting point, focussing in particular on his painting The Fortune-Teller from 1630.
The video examines the shortcomings of image recognition software and the moments when figurative images become unintelligible to the computer. Ziegler uploads collaged versions of The Fortune-Teller and feeds them into an online similar image search. The wide array of partly abstruse results range from pizzas to war-porn.
An analogy can be drawn between this blurring of meta-data, and the relationship between figuration and abstraction in Ziegler’s recent paintings. Over a period of weeks or months, the artist carefully paints images after the figurative reference. He then overpaints and treats the surface – with a cloth while the paint is still wet or with an orbital sander when it is already dry – to the brink of obliteration and reveals the aluminium underneath. A mere fraction of the actual image information remains and paintings that only remotely remind of their original source emerge.
The title of the exhibition refers on the one hand to the subject of Georges de La Tour's painting, who captured a moment of trickery within his The Fortune-Teller, on the other hand it emphasizes a sense of alienation and uncertainty associated with today's digital image distribution.