Thomas Scheibitz was born in 1968 in Radeberg, Germany, and studied alongside Frank Nitsche and Eberhard Havekost at Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HBK) in Dresden. Developing his skills within the influential Dresden painting tradition, he uses symbols of contemporary culture to create canvases that exist between abstraction and figuration.
In 2005, the artist collaborated with Tino Seghal to create the German pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale. Recent group shows include Construction New Berlin, Phoenix Art Museum, USA, 2006; Radar: Selections from the Logan Collection, Denver Art Museum, USA, 2006; The Artist's Dining Room Level 2 Gallery, Tate Modern, London, UK, 2007; Less is more - more could be Less, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, 2007 and Zuordnungsprobleme, Johann König, Berlin, 2008. Scheibitz has also shown widely with solo exhibitions: Brot & Spiele, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery New York, USA, 2004; Casa Amalia Index, Gallerie Sprüth Magers, Cologne, Germany, 2006; Low Sweetie # Omega Haus, Produzentengalerie Hamburg, Germany, 2006 and about 90 elements/ TOD IM DSCHUNGEL, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK and Musée d' Art Moderne Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 2008.
The artist lives and works in Berlin.
June 17, 2013ONE-Time Pad at Baltic
26 July 2013 – 3 November 2013
In 2013 BALTIC will present an exhibition of recent work by Thomas Scheibitz, one of the leading German artists of his generation. Investigating the boundary between figuration and abstraction, Scheibitz draws upon motifs and themes from the everyday and popular culture in the form of film, literature, music and advertising as well as architecture. He also takes inspiration from art historical imagery such as Renaissance paintings or medieval engravings which he places in new perceptual contexts. This large-scale presentation will retrace the conceptual and painterly development of Scheibitz’s career with a particular focus on the human figure, and the determination of form between figuration and abstraction. The exhibition will comprise over two hundred works across BALTIC’s Level 3 and Level 4 galleries, including painting, sculpture, drawing and works on paper.
For his seventh solo show with the gallery, Thomas Scheibitz continues to draw from classical painting and architecture, the contemporary urban landscape, and the influence of popular culture. Filtering these sources through his own lens, he creates evocative and powerful pieces that blur the line between abstraction and figuration.
February 2, 2011Thomas Scheibitz at Collezione Maramotti
A new exhibition by Thomas Scheibitz will open this Sunday at the Maramotti Collection in Italy’s Reggio Emilia. The exhibition, titled Il Fiume E Le Sue Fonti (The River and its Source) will feature three large paintings and a sculpture by one of Germany’s most well-known contemporary artists.
IV: I am really interested in how a studio of the twenty-first century works, and what is the studio system? Is there a studio system?
TS: Yes. Well, the studio system in my case is that I actually divided it in a rather equal way – the painting and the sculpture. Also in terms of space, they lie in close proximity. But the point is that in the painting studio no one can actually assist me or support me. I tried it, but as I try to build up a picture and all the things associated with the picture, it is actually almost impossible to assist me in this. As to the sculptures, I would differentiate again what is a work-of-art sculpture and what is more of a sculpture or an object…There I do need someone to help me, or to manufacture the things.
IV: What is the role of drawings? Does drawing connect the two?
TS: Well, drawing is again a middle step…I absolutely need my sketchbook to begin with – a digital camera and then really an actual sketchbook, as we know it, where I register or put down ideas or suggestions, similar stuff that catches my eye, which turns into a drawing or drawings. The dimensions are always the same, it is always this A4 or this…this standard US letter format and everything is first…put into the same dimensions and then in turn placed next to one another, more or less based on content, to create a filter or evaluations of them, of the things – whether these things are more for a small sculpture or an outside sculpture or inside…
IV: And next to the drawings, a further sort of tie, if you wish, between sculpture and painting is collage, which is very much related…The drawings therefore go also into the book, into this art book [Film, Music and Novel, London: Other Criteria, 2006]…with pasted pages of a book or alphabets or holiday photos or excerpts from an encyclopaedia. One has the feeling that it is somehow a sort of great picture collection.
TS: Yes. Well, the archive is more or less…Well, at the beginning it was very organised into portfolios and folders and such. However only I can look up what was in 1969 and what is collected someplace in 2000. But in the meantime, it collected in big boxes or big graphics cabinets, drawing cabinets, and I…keep them and judge them worthwhile to collect or to discard them. Then I take a drawing or sketch or something and constantly work much closer with it – this photo or a newspaper always in front of me and I always use it or pin it to the wall somewhere and look at it constantly and perhaps it gives me inspiration or something…
IV: And what role does the text play in this archive?
TS: It naturally is related to the text. It comes a bit out of, again out of my studio system, that naturally the title of a work plays a decisive role…or I try to keep the role so that I, the work, the picture or the sculpture can control the text, well the title, and not vice versa, where the title controls the work. There is still another phonetic point of reference, whereby this phonetic aspect sometimes is closer or pleases me more than the actual meaning. To this extent, if we take now as an example from German the word ‘Himmel’, in English one can say ‘sky’ or ‘heaven’, the way ‘sky’ looks optically or ‘heaven’ looks optically with the things from everyday culture that we could add to it…then I can use it purposefully if the titles are in English. And in German I am very interested in particular letter combinations put together that actually remind you of something from collective memory or some advertisement – stuff that you know from somewhere but still in connection the picture presents another, completely other effect…
IV: There are always books or theories or ideas that are a toolbox for the artist. Hence, my question is what are toolboxes? TS: Yes. Well, toolboxes to me are perhaps the things that are definitively my own, my appropriated space, that which I set myself, I would say, this genre, painting or sculpture…So, I rather let myself be inspired by books or films, naturally, or by music, like at the moment I want very specifically to go into the late Renaissance period…I have naturally also a classical aspect in my work, where I also really like, or shall we say researched, classical art. But in the end the things are, well, an elbow by Michelangelo or a label from my mineral water bottle here on the table. The comparison starts at the same level. So, in fact it plays the same role and then afterwards, later, I think of what I can possibly use for me…I do not draw a distinction between high culture or…low culture or however one should call it. And there is always…a changing list of the top three or five films or pieces of music…
IV: What is the top list now?
TS: There was once a list that…had to do with age – how, at a certain age the people did something – and that was at the age of twenty-six. Then Electric Ladyland by Jimmy Hendrix was for me…on the same spool as Citizen Kane by Orson Welles and the one from Hollywood, Steven Spielberg with Jaws. These are, well, three things that I consider really good or that one can watch, and I was astonished as to the age when it happened. So, there are such lists…From the world of music it is often, shall we say, more in the extreme music corner…I search for things without a verse and a refrain and all these genre-typical things that adhere to such a thing so that each track is three minutes and so. So, I try to find things that try to abstract from the typical stuff – the genre, the radio stuff. But not obsessively in fact… IV: Could we perhaps speak more about the book and where these classifications [Film, Music and Novel] come from?
TS: There are a few A4 pages tightly filled with pictures with titles that I collected from all places possible, when I invent a special name or a special technical message or whatever. It is, of course, all collected and then contrived onto one page for practical and also optical purposes, or again phonetic cross-references. These are, of course, almost surreal means or methods that one perhaps knows from Surrealism, how things are combined there...that we build a context that is not immediately legible on the surface…These are three things that I thought about – film, music and novel – which I respect greatly, or from which much input comes, in a way. But these are, of course, the things that I do not create or probably could never create, you know. IV: One can say that it almost is about understanding more of your own practice…
TS: As I already said, the greatest motivation comes actually from things…When I have the occasion to speak to a film director, about how he has to organise or arrange his stuff, or also move parts before some night shots that actually come after a scene at the beach in the film, or some such. It is extremely interesting how one can combine or organise all of this and one needs…a great ability to abstract as a creator of the whole…so that one knows where he needs to add and where he can proceed. This, again, is perhaps a cross-reference to a structure that one needs. Otherwise, I would probably somewhere lose myself…So, I categorically need such structures or such connections. And, of course, I have great respect for writers who work on large manuscripts for three or four years that remain in boxes in front of them, so that one sort of visually sees the work, what comes where and for directors it is, of course, exactly the same.
IV: Is there a dialogue with writers?
TS: No. Actually not…
IV: It brought me to the idea that it perhaps would be good to speak about film a little more. I saw in this one work, that was, I believe in a group exhibit, a video about films…
TS: It started when I was sort of interested in certain scripts or in…There is also a small…a small connection or a small article that I have indeed misplaced or lost that deals with the heading, the emergence of the script…That in the earlier times masons or typecutters did try to record the ideal measurements and to establish a standard so that we can differentiate between scripts, old German or Greek or some such. The things have a sort of structure or a standard. However, today’s man deals with script so that it can also be on the borderline of legibility or…one recognises it as a logo or that the things, let’s say, are used almost visually…When I take something and distort it or scramble it and set it in another way it is almost a visual process and the script…well the script is as symbols of course…
IV: There is this very interesting text by Dieter Schwarz…from 2001, View and Plan of Toledo [Thomas Scheibitz: View and Map of Toledo, Richter Verlag, 2002] also establishing this connection to the map…Could we perhaps speak more about this?
TS: Well, the View and Plan of Toledo is a late work of El Greco…I was very much taken by the principle or the structure, because…when one takes in that at the time a picture had also the task of documenting, the documentation of the city of Toledo was somewhat abandoned for the sake of a composition. For me, it is about the palace that actually stands on the border of the city set in the middle of this picture…In a three-dimensional landscape, the two-dimensional picture opens this plan almost as a document, so that the plan is in this case the documentation…One says ‘Okay, that is Toledo and the picture had the task of representing it as precisely as possible’. This is different today. Today, if I had a portrait or a city landscape with the theme of Toledo, I wouldn’t necessarily have to maintain this similarity factor or documentation factor…Rather, one could then approach it differently, from another view and that should sort of be the starting point… IV: It would perhaps be interesting to know a bit more about the studio system…How, how is it present? How is the studio system at the moment, in August 2006?
TS: Yes. The studio system is actually brimming with things that are, as I tried to explain, all in a sort of blank stage that they reach relatively quickly with the work of employees…One must understand the blanks in this way: they come, they will be built as different things, all static, whereby I do not have to deal with them at all…So, they are waiting practically for completion, one could say.
TS: And in terms of paintings, it is imperative and always has been that I prefer a parallel working method. So, I have ten or fifteen relatively large paintings always visually available. Well, they stand next to each other and I work on them at the same time, always for a particular project. And the next project, actually, is Dublin with Rachel Thomas in the museum there – a relatively large task to realise a big exhibit, where possibly also for the museum there, in the courtyard, an outside sculpture can come to be.