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ART IN A COMPLEX SYSTEM
The Paintings of Matthias Groebel
Helen Sloan
Matthias Groebel,
http://groebel.eyewithwings.net/.
Represented by
Universal Concepts Unlimited, New York.
http://www.u-c-u.com.
M
atthias Groebel's body of
work has been made for read-
ing through its process as
much as from the paintings themselves.
In this sense his work is very much of its
time. Groebel, who lives and works in
Cologne, Germany, sets up tensions
that are a function of the seemingly
oppositional techniques used in making
the work; and along with many of his
contemporaries, complex interplay be-
tween image and concept sets up para-
doxes within the pieces. On another
level, the work very de nitely deals with
areas that are being largely neglected in
the visual arts currently. He is quite
interested in aspects of art history, and
his work is anything but anti-intellectual.
He is not interested in "one-liners" and
as a practising scientist as well as a
painter, he wants to approach his work
as an experiment with hypothesis,
method, result, and conclusion. This
makes for a welcome depth of engage-
ment and debate for the audience.
The tension created in Groebel's work is
one of its most signi cant features. The
viewer is initially drawn into what at
rst glance is an image/text piece. A
playful invitation to search for the vari-
ous canons typically present in that
kind of work is presented, with ques-
tions being raised around whether the
pieces are an inter-referential view of
the art world, a political statement, a
comment on consumerism, or an ex-
amination of the globalization of the
media. These are just a few examples of
extensively covered debates and points
in this type of work and aspects implic-
itly present in these pieces. But Groebel's
work demands a poetic response as well
as a conceptual one.
Although Groebel's work is made up of
stills grabbed from a screen, and the
painting process is machine driven, it is
heavily interwoven with the textural
and gestural nature of painting. The
works function in relation to their exist-
ence as art objects with an author as
much as to the techniques used and
pluralistic subject matter and concepts
present in the pieces. Groebel appropri-
ates much of the language of perform-
ance, cultural activism, and ephemeral
arts and yet is quite openly making
2002 Performing Arts Journal, Inc.
PAJ 70 (2002), pp. 127132.
j
127