FRANKFURT.- The MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
Frankfurt am Main is now featuring the first comprehensive exhibition of the multi-faceted oeuvre of Thomas Scheibitz (b. in Radeberg in 1968) to be staged in Germany. In the early nineties, Scheibitz began developing a new form of conceptual painting and sculpture which differed strongly from the other artistic developments of his generation. Since his presentation at the German Pavilion of the Venice Biennale if not before his work has been widely received and can be found in important museums and private collections internationally. The exhibition Thomas Scheibitz: One-Time Pad is being carried out in cooperation with the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead (England), where it will be featured from July to November 2013.
For me, Thomas Scheibitz is one of the most innovative painters and sculptors of the present. Taking the history of modernism and the visual manifestations of our present as a basis, he probes the boundaries of figuration and seeks new forms of abstraction, says MMK director Dr Susanne Gaensheimer, who curated the exhibition in collaboration with Eva Huttenlauch. A large proportion of the approximately two hundred works at the MMK are hereby being featured in an exhibition for the first time. Occupying the entire top floor as well as the central hall on the ground floor of the museum building, the presentation encompasses paintings, works of paper, drawings and sculptures. What is more, for the first time examples of the artists secondary material will also be on view found objects he has amassed in a personal archive since the beginning of his artistic career to serve him as a reservoir for his pictorial language. From this extensive and rigorously systemized archive, the MMK is showing photographs, sketches, reproductions from fashion, music and architecture magazines, record covers, reproductions of artworks of the past, items from the DIY store, the toy shop or the botanical garden and much more. These sources serve the artist as links to the reality he refers to in his works while at the same time strongly alienating it. Against the background of his archive, Scheibitz turns visual impressions into a new semiotics ranging between contemporaneity and timelessness. Scheibitzs analyses of the images of our collective memory subtly expose basic patterns of our perception and our life realities. At the same time, he divests his works of all clues to identifiable motifs and consistently avoids illustration and legible narration. He is concerned neither with psychological-emotional nor gestural expression, but rather with rendering the forms and objects of everyday surroundings in the terms of his own individual pictorial universe, co-curator Eva Huttenlauch explains.
A chief focus of the exhibition is the human figure, a theme of fundamental concern to the painter for many years but never before now the primary motif of a presentation of his works. Within this context, Scheibitz does not draw from the humanist concept of the body valid since the Renaissance, but concerns himself with the question as to how the present-day painter can employ the means of abstraction to negotiate the depiction of the human being. He seeks a new and contemporary symbolic and formulaic approach in accordance with the human being of the modern world, Gaensheimer observes. Artistic achievements of the history of art from early modern times until well into the twentieth century of Mannerism, Cubism and Surrealism, for example nevertheless remain important formal impulses for Scheibitzs search for the figure, and influence his symbolic approximation of the depiction of man. In the process, the large-scale canvases with figural depictions take human dimensions as their orientation.
The theme of the human figure is also mirrored in the exhibition room curated by Thomas Scheibitz with works from the MMK collection. To this end, he chose significant examples revolving around the theme of the figure in space, and created dialogues between them and his own works. The artists represented here are Nobuyoshi Araki, Mario Merz, Miroslav Tichy and John Baldessari. A further exhibition room is devoted to Scheibitzs drawings, which to him represent an intermediate phase between the initial idea and the execution of a painting or sculpture. By featuring drawings and the artists archive, the exhibition is placing the focus on the various stages of Scheibitzs artistic work, often carried out in processes over several years from the initial thought to a painting with a precise pictorial structure consisting of geometric forms. His paintings and sculptures are the results of a multi-step procedure in which he investigates the boundary between reality and invention by adopting familiar images and translating them into his encrypted pictorial language. Scheibitz also alludes to the coding process he employs in his artistic work with the exhibition title. One-Time Pad is a method of encryption used for secret messages and considered impossible to crack.