Torben Giehler, Nomenklatura, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 244 x 304 cm
In his second solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner Torben Giehler presents five large-scale acrylic paintings that explore new pictorial solutions in combining traditional painting with digital encoding, methods of representation with techniques of construction.
He begins his luminous interlaced, geometric paintings with freehand drawings of urban areas and cityscapes, which he downloads onto the computer and digitally redesigns into complex pictorial arrangements. He then transposes these newly generated compositions - sometimes resembling sectional views of 4-dimensional hypercubes - onto the canvas. This method allows Giehler to create vibrating rhythmical grids of colour that are made of vigorously jagged lines and superimposed angular shapes. Thus he refuses any categorisation of his work into figuration, abstraction, or Concrete Art.
One of the central paintings in the exhibition is titled after the novel "sputnik sweetheart" by Haruki Murakami, published last year. In this novel Murakami plays with reality and dream – two worlds, which he considers existing parallel to one another. His characters are lonely travellers between theses worlds and circle around one another like satellites without ever managing to get close to one another. "Sputnik", meaning "companion" in Russian, is the nickname that one of Murakami's female protagonists gives to the woman she longingly loves, but who is unable to love her back. Whereas Murakami places emphasis on the distance between his characters, Giehler sends the viewer into dizzying heights above his abstract architectonic landscapes, creating an impression of looking at manipulated satellite photos of dense urban areas or at the computer screen of a flight simulator. Giehler's abstract colourful arrangements of interwoven geometric shapes and lines evoke anonymous architectural environments without any indication of human life or any reference to specific places. At the same time, his screened structures are reminiscent of pixels. Giehler's dynamic compositions seem like crystallizations of visible transportation networks and urban structures, as well as of virtual communication networks, information highways, and multi-media systems. In contrast to Murakami, who transposes the parallel worlds of his protagonists into mythical and spiritual spheres, Giehler travels through the ubiquitous digital worlds that increasingly shape the face of our environment.
Even though the viewer is drawn into a coherent space, Giehlers paintings display variations and interpretations rather than representations of digital 3-D or 4-D spaces. Due to the precise and multi-layered application of paint, he achieves a collage-like effect that counteracts any perspective illusion. His vibrating synthetic colours follow pictorial demands rather than refer to an exterior reality. In this sense Giehler's grid arrangements may also be read in the context of Concrete Art in the first half of the 20th century, for example works by Piet Mondrian or Theo van Doesburg. While Mondrian unfolds the universal spiritual structures, Giehler extracts the laws of our digitalised and digitally generated realities and employs them like modules for his own pictorial language. His sometimes ironically exaggerated worlds are both: science-fiction and today's sped-up reality.
Torben Giehler was born in 1973 in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, USA, and now lives and works in New York City.
Having exhibited in numerous American and European galleries, his work was lately included in the exhibition "Painting Pictures" at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Moreover Giehler recently had an extensive solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Salamanca, Spain. We are delighted to announce Torben Giehler's second solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner.