Tobias Raphael Pils is an Austrian artist known for his large grisaille expressionist paintings that are packed with figurative activity and his lively loose ink-on-paper drawings that tend to be more compositionally simplified.Read More
Pils chosen limitation of tones of grey in his painterly and busily intricate graphic works is distinctive. His energetic, formally composed, semi-abstractions that usually contain figures or animals, and mix subtlety with bravado or paradox with humour, are immensely popular.
Pils attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1990 to 1994, where he became adept at handling the materiality of paint as a medium.
Tobias Pils evocative 'abstract' artworks are often dense with overlapping organic and industrial forms that allude to peopled narratives in the real world, but which also seem to be a section of cut-out fabric because of their rich abundance of imagery that is like that of a tapestry. See for example, coins (2018), couple (2019), Love (2019), and The Communication (2019). Other works are more austere with open, more minimal, landscape vistas, such as The discussion (2021) and Birdman (2018).
In his fable-like paintings Pils mixes thick piled-on impasto with gestural swathes of delicate washes and very understated colour, while his ink drawings tend to be much sparer and more spontaneous, serving as meditations on earlier completed paintings. His pencil drawings on the other hand are very different in purpose, serving as aids in working out problems in composition before painting is started.
Pils' imagery is rich in its apparent art-historical allusions to other artists such as Pablo Picasso, A.R. Penck, and Carroll Dunham, sometimes formally reliant on harsh and strident rectangular block shapes, other times full of softer and rotund, flowing arabesques. Geometric forms often structure the positioning of Pils' figurative elements, with body parts being regularly separated, to hover in isolation and take on a symbolism.
Pils believes that when working on a canvas, at a certain point it lets the artist know when it is complete, and why it is created. These aspects reveal themselves, and it is time to stop.
Pils has received numerous accolades, including being awarded a Chinati Foundation Artist Residency (2016), an International Studio & Curatorial Program Scholarship (2014); the Anton Faistauer Prize for Painting (2011); and the Otto Mauer Prize (1994).
Tobias Pils has been the subject of many solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Tobias Pils, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles (2021); 3 Paintings 2 Drawings 1 Triptych, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York (2020); Adam & Eve, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich (2020); Primordial Flow, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne (2020); Tobias Pils, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2017); Tobias Pils, Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany (2017); Tobias Pils, Kunsthalle Krems (2017).
Group exhibitions include Joe Bradley — Tobias Pils, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2021); Seven-Up, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2020); With Wings That Beat, Skarstedt Gallery, London (2020); Au rendez-vouz des amis, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2020); Drawing 2020, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2020); Some Trees, Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles (2019); Bernhard Fuchs, Justin Matherly, Tobias Pils, Josef Albers, Museum Quadrat Bottrop (2018); Jay DeFeo: The Ripple Effect, Aspen Art Museum (2018).
His work is included in the collections of The Albertina Museum, Vienna; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; and Le Consortium, Dijon.
The artist's website can be found here.
Tobias Pils studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. His selected exhibitions and projects include: Secession, Vienna, 2013; Galerie im Traklhaus, Salzburg, 2012; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York City, 2011; Tenda Gialla, Pogon Jedinstvo, Zagreb, 2010; Beijing Biennale, NAMOC Museum, Beijing; Rezan Has Museum, Istanbul; Gironcoli Museum, Herberstein; Genia Schreiber University Gallery, Tel Aviv, 2008; Tresor BA Kunstforum, Vienna and Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, 2007. Pils lives and works in Vienna.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022