Gert and Uwe Tobias Printing Monsters

Edition Review

  • Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2012)

  • Series of lithographs (projected to be twelve in all), image 39.5 x 34.5 cm, sheet 42.5 x 37 cm each. Editions of 15. Printed by Felix Bauer, Cologne, published by Sabine Knust/Matthias Kunz Verlag, Munich. $1800 each.

These prints mark Gert and Uwe Tobias’ first lithographs and first project with Galerie Sabine Knust. Best known for their large-scale woodcuts, the Tobias twins have drawn extensively on their cultural heritage, incorporating the decorative properties and materials of Romanian folk-art as well as the twisted gothic fantasies associated with Transylvania, where they were born. The brothers consider their woodcuts “original” works and thus do not release them in regular editions, but they have begun experimenting with other printmaking techniques, purposefully exploiting the smaller scale and more restrained palette typically expected of prints [see Art in Print, Vol. 2, No. 1].

Gert and Uwe Tobias, from the series Untitled (2012).

Gert and Uwe Tobias, from the series Untitled (2012).

These painterly lithographs adopt the formal language of portraiture: most offer a face and upper torso, though both are crazily distorted. Some vary this format slightly—one gray and black image appears to show a skull held in two hands; another shows a seated figure whose arm and leg trail off the page—but the notion of the portrait remains firmly intact.

As in the twins’ other work, art historical references abound. The quick and intuitive line in one lithograph imparts a movement reminiscent of Honoré Daumier. Against the dark olive background the figure is drawn and shaded with black lines that extend all over the surface, while the stark white of the eye shines out. In another print, the figure’s large eyes and melted features owes something to Francis Bacon. And the hourglass form characteristic of Edvard Munch is echoed in the positive space of a lithograph split between a cream top and purple bottom, depicting a figure with black hair falling around her.

Each of these images has its own character, and each can stand alone, but seen as a group these characters interact—the compositions, play of colors and methods of abstraction—form a larger, stranger crowd.

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