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Tilo Baumgärtel

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Carrier, 2014, 60x80cm, oil on canvas
Carrier, 2014, 60x80cm, oil on canvas
Tilo Baumgärtel seems to have aligned his figures with the `multioption society´as Peter Gross calls it, referring to the way in which large sections of society have dispensed with the concept of salvation. Representatives of this existence appear slack and voiceless, thrust involuntarily into a particular and often peculiar set of circumstances- slumped on the ground in a makeshift campsite during a thunderstorm, for example. The characters in his paintings thus appear strangely inactive - lethargic perhaps, or simply without purpose. Baumgärtel is not a social analyst, but he is a realist when it comes to his own inner words - there is something down-to-earth and believable about the strange scenarios he concocts. (...) He sometimes leaves  realism behind and gets closer to fantasy when he turns to exaggeration as a strategy,whether in the form of an oversized animal or a figure verging on caricature. (...) During an interview in 2008 he declared to me,"I see myself as a hinge between people asking questions on all levels, and as an agitator who presents his findings and tries to capture madness, beauty, questionable things and strange  things in pictures in order to create a certain resonance." He also likes to incorporate a little irony into his pictures, perhaps to make his massages less indigestible. Baumgärtel things in filmic an theatrical terms, and his staged spaces have an extraordinary unity as painterly compositions. (...) The pictorial spaces that Baumgärtel creates are like memories and fantasies torn from their proper homes, offering visions of incipient decay or a looming downfall - we can`t help but feel we are looking at the visualization of someone´s worst-case scenario. This unsettling word is one of beguiling possibilities - of dark, of threatening incidents, or of the menace of something unforeseen that enshrouds the figures in their post-catastrophic surroundings. Baumgärtel´s paintings have considerable affinity with the great decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries -the spirit of Max Klinger, Arnold Böcklin and Edvard Munch with a leavening of Giorgio de Chirico. The contemporary relevance of his work is anchored in his respect for tradition and in a sense of rootedness within it. He has thrown the window of memory wide open and mate the past contemporary.-Christoph Tannert

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