New York, 39 Great Jones Street
For the inaugural exhibition at its New York space, the Zürich-based gallery Eva Presenhuber presents a group of new paintings by the Austrian artist Tobias Pils. Widely recognized in Europe for his erratic paintings that maneuver around abstraction and representation, Pils creates large scale paintings bursting with energetic brushstrokes and mysterious narratives. Artspeak editor Osman Can Yerebakan interviewed Tobias Pils on the occasion of his New York solo debut.
Osman Can Yerebakan: Did you have in mind while creating these paintings that they would be shown in your first solo exhibition in New York? Did you approach the canvas in a way different than the usual?
Tobias Pils: It is a body of work I had nearly finished when we decided to show them in New York. The paintings are all the same size and were done within a year. They look like a series, but they actually are not. Each painting talks about a different subject and has its own motive. The two horizontal paintings I did especially for this space.
OCY: Your paintings tend to achieve figurative forms, but almost turn away from the edge. How is the relationship between your hand and the brush in terms of dominance and control?
TP: Before I start to work on a new painting, I have a clear vision of its motif, temperature, and its form. However, the process of painting itself is the chance to lead me to a point and solution that I could not have thought of in advance. Sometimes, the painting is finished when any trace of the primary idea has dissolved.
OCY: Your work carries traces from Cubism or from Modernist painting in general. How do you balance your relationship with the 20th century painting as an abstract painter?
TP: Painting is coming to terms with the past either with the history of the arts, or my own. I'm not interested in terms like abstract or figurative painting, I want to develop a language that cannot be replaced by another language.
OCY: There are a few repeating patterns and forms but each painting seems to stem from another realm. Is there an overall narrative of your work?
TP: I move from one painting to the next one; I don't believe in solutions so I try to do something completely different with every painting. Of course I do not succeed. This could be the narrative.
OCY: You’re very loyal to your color palate. How do you limit yourself with specific range of colors or do you find that liberating?
TP: I think and feel like I paint in color. Limitations are always liberating.
On view through June 17, 2017