Tobias Lehner: Unintended Consequences
From March 29th to May 11th, Gallery Baton is showing Unintended Consequences, a solo exhibition of Tobias Lehner (b. 1974) who comes from a background of Leipzig tradition of figurative painting. The artist is expanding his international recognition through unique style of figurative painting.
Neo Rauch (b. 1960) as their principal axis, the Leipzig painters, as they are evaluated as the 21st century’s first bona fide artistic phenomenon, establish nutritive elements from the historical fact as coming from East Germany (1949-1990) area and freshly express the tradition of figurative painting which is Old Leipzig School’s legacy. In a short period of time, the Leipzig painters have emerged as mainstream forces of contemporary art and have risen as one of the major leading groups that have brought Neo-Renaissance to international painting world.
Given this climate, the world of Tobias’s works based on abstract painting and the steady rise in his popularity as the leading artist of Leipzig painters seem unconventional. The art world of East Germany stayed under the influence of Socialist Realism for a considerable amount of period due to its geopolitical characteristics. During that period, abstract painting was relatively neglected because of the intrinsic nature of abstract painting: ambiguity of subject matter, intimacy of meaning, and autonomy of interpretation. Therefore, Tobias, who has pursued his own abstract painting from this art historical environment, is significant as he establishes a few important windows that show the link from the characteristics of Leipzig abstract painting to the traditional painting style.
First of all, his works are restricted as much as possible from improvisation which is the technical pivot of abstract painting. The combination of brightly colored, unspecified sides and lines is key element to his works, but each of these images is delicately controlled by the artist, rather than swimming freely on the canvas.
Although the fractal structure existing in nature seems irregular at first glances, like morphological patterns can be interpreted through sophisticated mathematical approach, Tobias develops visual effects in which each organism locates itself with its own space and role. He elicits this effect from depicting the overlap of surfaces and the position of each layer like a pre-set. Even the drippings are kept under regular intervals and patterns, and this acts as a metronome to remind the swimming images of the flowing time or as a basis for giving flexibility to the tight control which can be seen solemn.
Tobias publicly reveals that music is an important motif in his work, and his interest in the visualization of music’s spread into the space with air as its medium is one example. In particular, the images added onto the concentric circle at the bottom most layer are expressed like free organisms on the canvas as music spreads into the air. The images look like a tributary to the river that flows into the wetlands. They are complex but lead to the intended visual inspiration.
Overall, the distinct contrast between abstract images and geometric figures and the organic harmony woven out of the images, spreading like music, and surrounding empty spaces are essential.
Tens of instruments perform difficult contemporary music through concerto, but talented conductor pinpoints the scarcely revealed rhythm and tone with skillful control. Likewise, Tobias explores the potential of abstract painting and takes another step forward from the traditional foundation of Leipzig. The nine new works of Tobias can be seen at Gallery Baton from March March 29th through May 11th.