Anna McNay

Interview with Toby Ziegler at Simon Lee Gallery


Interview with Toby Ziegler

Toby Ziegler: Post-Human Paradise

Simon Lee Gallery

5 October – 12 November 2016

Having grown up
with a postcard of Henri Matisse’s Large Reclining Nude (1935) on his parents’ bathroom
wall, Toby Ziegler (b1972) was more than familiar with this seminal work, which
blurs the lines between the figurative and the abstract. While a student at
Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design, Ziegler found himself
questioning the relevance of painting in today’s digitised society, and much of
his work is an attempt to establish an answer to this. Taking inspiration from
iconic paintings, he repaints the images painstakingly on to aluminium sheets,
before spraying over them and then sanding them down with an electric sander,
revealing both the painted image and the bare metal beneath. Describing his
methods as “a perverse way of trying to make a mark”, Ziegler recognises his tussle
with primarily painterly issues. 

But Ziegler also
works using Google, searching for the paintings online, gradually reducing the
resolution of the images he finds, and repeatedly feeding them back into the
reverse image search, which returns increasingly curious, incongruous and
diverse responses – in the case of the Matisse, many initially relating to
babies and playthings, but latterly turning to cankerous sores and wounds. From
these images, Ziegler has composed a slow-moving film, which plays alongside
the series of images Matisse himself made as documentation of the progress of
his painting and its evolution from illusionistic to two-dimensional space.

Ziegler spoke to
Studio International about his interest in thinking about the body in relation
to digital technology and the history of painting in relation to the way we
circulate imagery today.

Watch the video interview here