this issue contains
>> Portrait of Hanne Darboven
>> Interview: Tim Eitel
>> Dieter Roth & Dorothy Iannone
>> Uta Barth

>> archive

 
Art Comes from Artificiality
A Conversation with Tim Eitel



Urbane Coolness or an air-conditioned nightmare? In Tim Eitel’s paintings, modernist big-city architecture, park landscapes, and broad skies collide as sharply delineated fields of color. His paintings are populated by individual figures or groups in which each is left to his or her own devices. Yet a dark shadow seems to have descended upon this brave new world. Sebastian Preuss spoke with Tim Eitel, one of the most successful artists of the New Leipzig School, about parallel worlds, nature as a recreational park, and his fascination for bodily poses.




Tim Eitel, Krater, 2004,
Photo Uwe Walter, Berlin,
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + Art, Leipzig/Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006



The people in Tim Eitel’s paintings always seem isolated, immersed in themselves, interior, often in opposition to their surroundings. They move through oddly sterile worlds as though in an invisible bubble. While the buildings quote real museums, pictorial grids à la Mondrian merge with interiors in surreal manner; landscapes of abstracted nature seem frozen into cool fields of color.



Tim Eitel, o. T. (Gepäck), 2005,
Photo Uwe Walter, Berlin,
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + Art, Leipzig/Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

As of late, however, even these seem to have disappeared, leaving the figures lost in endless monochrome tones or a deep, rich black. Eitel speaks of parallel worlds. He is a master of hidden allusion, even if one should never take this all too literally. His paintings are filled with diffuse moods whose character remains ambiguous. But the proximity to late 19th century Symbolism is a freely elected affinity. Eitel dreams the old dream of Romanticism, but he does it entirely without nostalgia or sentiment. On the contrary, he arms himself with elements from modern design and architecture as well as the contemporary attitudes and poses of his figures. Splendid Isolation – this epithet fits to none of the young painter stars better than the 34 year-old artist, who studied in Leipzig together with Neo Rauch, Matthias Weischer, and David Schnell; for the past three years he has been meeting with enthusiastic response among collectors worldwide. His works have long been part of the Deutsche Bank Collection.

Sebastian Preuss: Why do the figures in your paintings always seem so isolated, even when they’re in groups?

Tim Eitel: I consider it to be a kind of controlled experiment. When I remove the figures from their original context, then I concentrate on their appearance alone, their pose and their body language. But this kind of isolation varies from work to work. In the earlier paintings, the museum paintings, the people depicted are immersed in contemplation. With the landscapes, it’s more about the relationship of the city dweller to nature, which has become demoted to a kind of nearby recreational space, a culturally defined area. It’s about the conflict, the interaction between individual figures and the landscape. But you shouldn’t confuse the figures’ isolation with loneliness. Instead, it’s a solitariness – a solitariness as a possibility to concentrate. In moments like these, you draw closer to your own identity.


Tim Eitel, Leerer Raum, 2004,
Photo Uwe Walter, Berlin,
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig/Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006
Tim Eitel, o. T. (Graue Wände), 2005,
Photo Uwe Walter, Berlin,
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig/Berlin, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006


You once stressed how important the reference to the world of recognizable things is to your work, and that you couldn’t imagine painting abstract. But this reference is broken by the stark isolation of your figures. Your paintings are ethereal, often magical, and always artificial.

That happens automatically. Painting is always artificial and staged; there’s no such thing as a straight realism. I translate reality for myself and extract a kind of parallel world from the flood of imagery bombarding us every day. When you see a somewhat embarrassed looking figure standing at a counter, to name one example, then it’s a typical image that has something to say about our time. In the end, this whole flood of images today means nothing. You have to filter the essence out of it, find signs that are more universal. But I’m not trying to make a literary or theoretical statement; I’m trying to unleash associations in the viewer.



Tim Eitel, Wagen, 2005,
Photo Uwe Walter, Berlin,
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig/Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2006

Do you always have an image in mind when you start painting?

These arise gradually. Take the construction wagon in one of my new paintings, for instance. When I saw it, it interested me immediately; I knew it was right up my alley, and I photographed it. I take a lot of photographs, of course, that I never use. The impressions and associations merge and I start painting, and then more and more images crop up.


[1] [2] [3]