These Abstract Paintings Say, "This Is Your Brain on Data"

German artist Tobias Kroeger’s new solo show ‘Playground’ examines what it means to be a “modern, digitized human.”

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28 April 2016, 2:10pm

New Master (2015). 60x80cm. Images courtesy the artist

Like many a fellow international contemporary artist, Tobias Kroeger got his start in graffiti. Influenced by the New York scene, the German began his graffito career at the tender age of 12 back in 1990, then switched to life as a freelance graphic artist in 1997. A few years ago, Kroeger shifted again from graphic design and public murals to canvas and contemporary art, creating “fictional portraits” composed of data fragments and machine parts, exploring what it means to be human in a digital world. The results evoke both Cubism and Futurism, but look very much of our times.

While his concerns are digital, Kroeger’s technique and processes are more traditional. He paints with both oil and acrylic, while attempting to fuse fine art with graffiti in new and interesting ways. At his new solo show Playground, currently on at Hugo 45 Gallery in Braunschweig, Germany, Kroeger presents more works that represent humans as beings increasingly governed by digital realms.

Twins (2015). 60x50cm

“The show Playground is dedicated to the representation of the modern, digitized human and how you can represent this painting even by the traditional means,” Kroeger says. “It is very difficult to find a contemporary form for this. It has become for me a search for a position between figuration and abstraction but also the attempt to create a kind of new iconography.”

In his paintings, Kroeger is always after a new way of handling the human figure—near enough to be reminded of the model, but also far enough away that the human becomes abstracted. To do this, Kroger combines geometric, angular forms with anthropomorphic forms.

How to Disappear (2016). 60x80cm

“A key aspect of the exhibition is my new way of dealing with colors,” he explains. “I use intense colors such as yellow, orange, blue and pink, which I try to capture always with shades of gray. Previously, my works were kept in monochromatic color schemes, but I always knew that I eventually would arrive at such results with colors.”

Each painting starts with a sketch. This allows Kroeger to create new forms and combinations, which he can then freely interpret on canvas.

Breathe (2015). 30x40cm

“I currently paint in acrylic and vinyl since the graphical aspect is important to me and the short drying phase is also helpful,” he says. “I like the brilliance of the colors that I apply in a multilayered, paste-like way, so the viewer gets a completely different impression in the gallery as opposed to looking at my work on the Internet.”

“I like the idea of experiencing the images in reality.”

Playground installation shot

Playground installation shot

Click here to see more of Tobias Kroeger’s work.

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