These abstract paintings say, “It’s your brain on the data”

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

Like many other international contemporary artists, Tobias Kroeger got his start in graffiti. Influenced by the New York scene, the German started his graffito career at the age of 12 in 1990, then moved on to life as a freelance graphic designer in 1997. A few years ago, Kroeger moved on 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 bear a strong resemblance to our times.

While his concerns are digital, Kroeger’s technique and processes are more traditional. He paints in both oil and acrylic, while trying to merge fine art with graffiti in new and interesting ways. During his new solo exhibition Playgroundcurrently at gallery Hugo 45 in Braunschweig, Germany, Kroeger is showing more works that depict humans as beings increasingly ruled by digital realms.

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

In his paintings, Kroeger is always looking for a new way to deal with the human figure – close enough to recall the model, but also far enough away for the human to become abstract. To do this, Kroger combines angular geometric shapes 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 like yellow, orange, blue and pink, which I always try to capture with shades of grey. Previously, my works were kept in monochromatic color schemes, but I always knew that I would eventually achieve such results with color.

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

“I currently paint in acrylics and vinyl because the graphic aspect is important to me and the short drying phase is also useful,” he says. “I love the brilliance of the colors which I apply in a multi-layered, paste-like fashion so that the viewer gets a completely different impression in the gallery as opposed to seeing my work on the internet.”

“I like the idea of ​​living the images in reality.”

Installation plan of the playground

Installation plan of the playground

Click here to learn more about the work of Tobias Kroeger.

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