• 3

    Toby Ziegler Installation, Q PARK, Level 7

Art

Toby Ziegler tells us about his magnificent new show, 14-storeys below London...

Posted by Liv Siddall,

This summer, thanks to projects such as Bold Tendencies in Peckham, we got pretty used to witnessing shows curated up high on a roof with a killer view and a drink in hand. But now as the winter winds are drawing in, it’s time for us arty types to scuttle into the warmth of galleries and basement’s to get our artistic fix. Good timing, then, for artist Toby Ziegler who has set up his latest show 14 storey’s below ground level, in an underground car park in Mayfair.

The only light down in the depths of the car park is cast from Ziegler’s enormous light boxes displaying an image taken from an old Piero della Francesca fresco, which cast dim light on to his mesmerising Bruegel-inspired Cripples Sculptures. We caught up with Toby and asked him a few questions about this brilliant show so far beneath London.

The sculptures are inspired by Bruegel’s cripples – when did you first come across Bruegel’s work and why does it particularly inspire you? 

The sculptures were triggered by looking at the Bruegel painting The Cripples, and on first seeing it I was reminded of a particularly hideous family portrait from my parents’ photo album. I started to re-imagine the figures from the painting on a computer using 3-D modeling software, to make a reduced, facetted approximation. As they evolved several other associations surfaced: fragments of classical sculpture, the Laocoon group at the Vatican, Courbet’s Origine du Monde, Rodin’s Balzac,  Francis Bacon’s Figures at the Base of A Crucifixion, Sol Lewitt’s open cubes.

The work also started to refer to war porn from Iran and Afghanistan that I stumbled across on the internet through reading about online censorship and nowthatswhaticalledfuckedup.com.

What exactly are the sculptures made from?

At first I make models out of paper but the finished sculptures are made from panels of oxidised aluminium riveted together. These are pierced and suspended by simple wooden geometric frames. The aluminium has a white stony quality which asks you to believe in the solidity and mass of the forms, but somehow the means of construction reminds you of their hollowness, that it is just a skin describing the volume.

There’s something marvellous about having such powerful, strong sculptures on what appear to be almost splints and crutches – was there a reason for stripping these sculptures of en element of strength?

I have always been drawn to unfinished or damaged works of art. They seem to make the act of looking more reflexive. What is lacking in the work and what does the viewer bring to it? In my sculptures the geometric frames supporting the figures function somewhere between plinth and prosthetic limb.

Artwork aside, the space itself is pretty magnificent, why did you choose such a deep, dark space for this installation?

Since I started thinking about this project I knew I wanted it to happen in an underground space. I spent a lot of time on subterraneabritannica.com, which is an encyclopedia of bunkers, tunnels and caverns, but decided that I wanted a space that was still in use and was more mundane. I embarked on a tour of London’s underground car-parks and probably visited 50 car-parks last year. The acoustics in the space were very important, and I think it’s appropriate that this is a space that echoes. At one point I was considering making a sound piece, a subliminal drone, as part of the installation, but having spent some time down there I realised that the space provides it’s own soundtrack: your footsteps reverberate, the tube trains rumble, cars approach from the upper floors, sounds are distorted and lose resolution as they bounce to and fro across the space. 

The space is contemporary and utilitarian , but also somehow archaeological. I was conscious of the speed of the place. Underground car parks are places you are urged to get in and out of as quickly as possible, but I hope the installation has a sense of slow time.

The only light in the exhibition comes from lightboxes, can you tell us a little about what is featured on those light boxes and why?

There are eight large light boxes scattered around the room which all feature a highly pixelated image of a section from a renaissance fresco; a battle scene painted by Piero Della Francesca. It’s interesting to me when pixels become approximations of brush marks. The light boxes function a little like windows , although the vista they offer is an impenetrable thicket of legs. He was a master of perspective but his paintings also comprise of flat shapes laid down next to each other.  You can draw a line between Piero Della Francesca and modernism. The section of the fresco I’ve used has a cluttered pictorial space that reminded me of Guernica.

The light boxes are programmed so that periodically one or other of them will slowly fade and then pulse back. I wanted the light in the room to be in motion.

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

 The things I’m currently working on look at tiny sections of still life paintings. I’m working on a show for Max Hetzler gallery in April and I can imagine a group of paintings and sculptures connected by a metal framework that snakes around the space.

Catch Toby’s work from October 10th – 20th at the Q PARK, in Mayfair

  • 1

    Toby Ziegler Installation, Q PARK, Level 7

  • 3

    Toby Ziegler Installation, Q PARK, Level 7

  • 5

    Toby Ziegler Installation, Q PARK, Level 7

Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. List-willy

    Writing is rarely a chore. However, sometimes you find yourself working on a piece that reaffirms why internships spent schlepping round Covent Garden in the pissing rain on breakfast compote runs, and hours practising writing “multi-storey carpark” in shorthand are more than worth the irritation.

  2. List

    I don’t care how nice the wallpaper or the lampshades may be, there’s something creepy about the stereotypical American motel featured in films, novels and plays. As if expressly to prove my point, artist Airco Caravan created a series called Crime Scene in which she paints the rooms that have previously played host to murders, suicides and accidental deaths.

  3. List

    Swedish creative Henrik Franklin is a designer, illustrator and animator with two of the world’s leading design schools (Konstfack in Sweden and Rhode Island School of Design) sparkling on his CV. Invited to showcase his considerable talents in Anna Lidberg’s Gallery 1:10 – “the miniature gallery for contemporary art” – Henrik produced a table of tiny tomes and the attention-to-detail on each cover design is really impressive.

  4. Main

    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

  5. List

    The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern has an incredible presence when it’s void of installations, which is what’s so wonderful about the huge enclosed space. As much as I admire the vast emptiness though, it’s even more exciting when a piece of work is placed in the hall and interrupts the vacuum. Opening today, American sculptor Richard Tuttle is the latest commissioned artist to show his work in the space and his 24ft sculpture certainly makes an impact.

  6. Main2

    I came across the work of Matthias Geisler over on Booooooom the other day and was reminded that we hadn’t posted something like this in a while. Matthias’ work is a swirling blend of spirits and creatures that are created with meticulous use of pencil crayons and water-colours. Is it me or are watercolours real in at the moment? All the cool kids seem to be using them.

  7. 8

    A kind of magic happens when Seth Armstrong puts brush to canvas. Having only been familiar with his work for the Mr Porter Journal, I became instantly bewitched by his paintings when clicking through his website.

  8. List

    Whatever the some naysayers may claim there is an art to collage and not everyone can do it, despite how good you think your teenage collages of cut-out red lips, Leonardo DiCaprio and puppies were. Anthony Zinonos is the perfect example of this, having featured on the site previously he’s updated his portfolio with some really cool bits and bobs.

  9. List

    There’s something very fun and raw about Jessica Hans’ vases and her approach to ceramics in general. Based in Philadelphia, she’s had a longstanding interest in foraging and raw materials since university; this has carried over into her ceramics work, which in the past has seen her driving to clay sites, digging her materials out of the ground and then firing them in their original state to see what would happen.

  10. Listt

    “To be an artist and for anyone to care vaguely about what you do is a great thing,” says street artist Moose in this fascinating new Nissan campaign, but his work is more important than most. As the inventor of reverse graffiti – whereby he uses a high-powered pressure washer to stencil imagery in the dirt that accumulates in our cities – Moose’s work asks questions about our attitudes to pollution in a very creative way.

  11. List

    To stare into a Danny Fox painting is like waking up in a world written by Charles Bukowski on a particularly heavy bender. There’s sex and drinking and guns, plus boxers and strippers and cowboys; here a horse, there a tiger. It’s intense and unnerving and exciting, but although there’s something very contemporary about Danny’s paintings, his rise to prominence owes a great deal to the support of a more well-established artist (an age-old route for up-and-coming artistic stars).

  12. Listjmp_cg_house_float_10

    Heads are turning in Covent Garden this morning, and they’re not just looking at the usual street performers – they’re gawping at a levitating building. Master of illusions Alex Chinneck’s latest mind-boggling public art installation is on show in what must surely be the spiritual home of his craft; one of the busiest piazzas in London and its theatrical hub. His floating building follows on from a sliding house, upside down house and many other puzzling optical illusions.

  13. List

    Back in 2013 designers Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman launched 40 Days of Dating, where they entered into a seven week relationship with each other to explore the world of romance from a creative perspective.