Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present new works by British artist Toby Ziegler (b.1972), the artist’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Ziegler’s practice alludes to the degeneration of images and artefacts through processes of technological reproduction and physical erosion. The works occupy and explore the field between formal composition and its collapse, where shapes and patterns are disturbed by gestural smudges and sprays. Confronting the idea of memory in an age of digital technology, Ziegler’s practice is rooted in art historical representations that have been manipulated and re-interpreted.
His new body of work is concerned with the relationship between control and abandon, subjecting images to a process of obliteration, in which representational pictorial information gives way to new abstract forms. Working from Gainsborough source images, the exhibition includes five paintings. Of these there are two pairs of paintings which, through a process of figurative and abstract experimentation, offer different iterations of the same image.
The oil on aluminium paintings are built up digitally and translated to painted, intricately worked landscapes until they achieve a representative clarity before they are sabotaged. This is done while the paint is still wet with a cloth pulled across the surface, obscuring the detailed arrangement of colour and form, or when the paint is dry, with an orbital sander rubbed into the surface to rupture the skin of paint and reveal the metal beneath. The disturbance of the surface and rupture of the image of the painted field breaks the illusion of coherent space. This approach can be seen as an unusual form of pentimenti: rather than disclosing the attempt to perfect or adjust a composition, these paintings revel in its dissolution.
In the pair of aluminium sculptures, information has similarly been lost and added through interpretation. Like the paintings, their genesis is based on translation but here Ziegler has conjured a bulbous sculpture of thin, tessellated aluminium triangles from a two-dimensional source. Although they are versions of the same form, one sculpture is crushed almost flat, as though constructed of a material that cannot hold its own weight and has been arrested in a collapsed state. Abandoning the traditional plinth and fashioned from aluminium thin enough to reveal indentations from the making process, the sculpture breathes with a life of its own.
The mutable nature of the works in the exhibition emphasize the expressive materiality of Ziegler’s practice in which the organic is locked in step with the industrial. Here a process led approach to construction is contrasted within the same work by efforts to damage and deconstruct as a means to make work.
Press release courtesy Simon Lee Gallery.