Installation shots

Adopting a typically collaborative approach to their creative process and employing a broad range of traditional and contemporary artistic media including woodcut, painting, drawing, collage, ceramic and installation, Gert and Uwe Tobias investigate the ramification of cultural identity as they conjure up an enigmatic, otherworldly imagery where narratives of figurative art and geometric abstraction braid together.

Originally from rural Romania but based in Koln (Germany) ever since leaving their home country at twelve years of age, the Tobias Brothers combine the profound inspiration from their native Transylvania - as its topical myths provide contextual framework to their practice - with the influence of Germanic culture. Folkloric legend, carnivalesque figures and archaic elements are incorporated into a polymorphous visual language which simultaneously embraces pop culture with a sensitive eye towards its potential to distort reality. Their iconic vocabulary integrates a nebulous amalgam of references where elements of Constructivism, Surrealism and Symbolism coexist with Medieval iconography and vernacular motifs morphing into a fairy tale universe of hybrid creatures in a seemingly constant metamorphic state.

Their iconic woodcuts unlock an array of historical associations as the Tobias appropriate and reinterpret in a contemporary key the oldest printing method which artists have been using in Europe and East Asia since ancient. Rather than carving into a wooden block, they cut clean individual shapes out of plywood and use a roller to apply printing ink, and use their hands or feet to layer the color onto the canvas. Bold colors and patterns characterize the uncanny choreography of ghoulish appearances that defy immediate identification as the blending of disparate forms - reminiscent of the animal, the human, the floral, the typographical, the architectural - composes a rich pictorial lexicon swaying between portraiture and still life.


Hand made ceramic sculptures and small-scale works on paper further emphasize the Tobias' quirky visual dialect. The ceramics embody bizarre creatures with vaguely human lineaments and geometric bodies culminating with round overly detailed heads dripping vivid pigments of color. Allusions to pop culture and to the incessant stream of images which overloads our society emerge consistently from the compositions on paper - collages and typewriting drawings -. The juxtaposition of images and cut-outs from magazines and newspapers with lushly painted backgrounds recalls surreal ambiences as narrative fades into a fragmented obscure indefiniteness. 

Rejecting any hierarchical distinction between fine art and craft, hand-made and processed, archaic and post-modern, rationale and subconscious, Gert & Uwe Tobias' anachronistic, occult contexts allegorize the fluctuating, heterogenous essence of the contemporary experience. 


Gert & Uwe Tobias (b.1973 in Kronstadt, Brasov, Romania) live and work in Koln, Germany. They graduated from the Hochschule für Bildende Kunste, Braunschweig under Walter Dahn in 2002. Their work has been exhibited in international institutions among which the  Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany (2018); Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Graphische Staatliche Sammlung, Munich, Germany (2016); Whitechapel, London, UK (2013); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2009) Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany (2008); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY USA (2007); UCLA, Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA USA (2006). Public Collections include Collezione Maramotti, Max Mara, Reggio Emilia, Italy; MoMa, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY USA; SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA; UCLA, Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA USA; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany; FRAC Auvergne, Clermont Ferrand, France; Sammlung Goetz, Munchen, Germany; Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany; Graphische Staatliche Sammlung, München, Germany.

Gallery exhibitions