About the work





Hydroplane, 2002
Oil on canvas
200 x 300

Something is amiss. But what exactly renders this seemingly idyllic landscape unsettling, is hard to say. The German artist Tilo Baumgärtel has created an evocative landscape, both familiar and strange.

The concrete and recognisable elements of the picture are countered by an enigmatic and surreal atmosphere, supported by the acid colours. It seems a latent threat might disturb the idyllic and serene surface any moment now.

The landscape is deadly silent, the water a mirror and the boats have been abandoned, apparently in no particular order. Blurred areas of oxidised neons steal around trees and boats, emanating ominous associations of accidents or the like.

Some sort of environmental disaster may have taken place, resulting in the flooding of the little house, and disappearance of people, . Or it may be a landscape of the imagination which has no direct connection to actual events and where the eeriness is only in one's mind.

Tilo Baumgärtel occupies the border between the realistic and the manifestly artificial. Extraordinary atmospheres and dreamlike visions appear alongside possibly real events that may have taken place in the East German landscape that Baumgärtel prefers to paint.

The realism is derived from the accurate brushwork and the main colours' similarity to an old photograph but the garish neon colours transform objects and landscape into a different dimension. The colours clearly do not belong in the landscape just as it is clearly strange that no people are present.

Tilo Baumgärtel's art in general
Baumgärtel moves in the area between dream, nightmare and reality. The surreal subject: the deserted forest lake in Hydroplan (Hydroplane) or the abandoned and overgrown bus stops in Wartezeit (Period of Waiting), slowly appear when the apparently naturalist paintings are scrutinized.

The everyday and seemingly idyllic aspects reveal disturbing changes that are both mentally and physically unsettling. We sense a danger, like an ominous lull before or after the storm.

The glaring psychedelic colours associate to a chemical spill as well as a metaphysical universe of dream and remembrance filled with symbols and metaphors. Baumgärtel's pictures possess an enigmatic mood that is difficult to define. They seem both concrete and dream-like.

The paintings are executed with great precision but are still obviously painterly. Baumgärtel uses the classic sfumato technique in which transitions from one colour to another are gradual. The delicate, protracted transitions not only imbue the paintings with a painterly quality, they also contribute to the dreamlike universe.

However, Baumgärtel employs more recent sources of inspiration as well. His paintings bear a great resemblance to film and photography. Each painting reveals a pronounced inspiration from film scenes and suggests a narrative sequence in which something has gone before, and now we are seeing the result of it. At other times there is a clear expectation that something is about to happen. 

Baumgärtel belongs to a young generation of painters who all attended the academy in Leipzig and have received much attention in recent years. All of them explore figurative painting to which, with great technical skill, they add new elements and inspirations.

The paintings demonstrate a thorough knowledge of other pictorial media such as computer graphics, comics, photography and film, thus coming across as a contemporary interpretation of a classic medium whose popularity endures.

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