Mathias Augustyniak’s drawing practice pertains to a semiology. He brings together signs from the outside world, reads them, reinterprets them, transforms them. All those signs are assembled as equals, composing a language, where the word and the image converse and may well become each other.
His drawing practice is driven by an ancestral form of humanism — an exploration of humankind’s many potentials. There is evident meaning in the fact that these signs mostly come from two vocabularies: the human figure, and letters — and often, indeed, they merge; human figures become letters in an alphabet of universality, contributing to a speech whose meaning is still to be deciphered, while letters also are inhabited by the body, or by parts of the body, to the point that they cannot be decontaminated from each other.
The often-reoccurring presence of eroticism in his work belongs to that humanistic element of his drawings: eroticism is, by nature, the art of attraction, the art of desire. It is human love manifested towards humanity itself. As such, these drawings are a symbol for all his work as draughtsman: they are statements of love for human beings.
These human beings are all the subject of a personal encounter with Mathias Augustyniak: whether they are friends, the loved one, fantasy figures, they are matrices for an embellishment and improvement of the artist’s life — in humanity, with humans. The logic of encounters dominates any relation: it requires intensity, intimacy; and the actuality of the person met’s existence is not a condition of the encounter; the individual can not be numbered in the demographics of living and dead population; he or she should rather be a figure of the dramatisation of humanity, real, unreal, potential — a human being of full humanity.
This deep sense of humanity belongs to a process of poeticisation of the world — bringing in a sense of suggestion, of dream-like transformation of images, manifested by the consistent use of ink and black and white, as well as the most vivid colours. Extremes compose this world, open as a space for dreams and actualities together to be displaced into an otherness, where humanity is made dynamic and more beautiful, more intense.
Mathias Augustyniak’s practice as a draughtsman and his participation in M/M (Paris), as one of the two “M”s of the celebrated design duo, is in itself a very fascinating part of this ensemble of works: many of his drawings, made separately from commissions, or specifically for them, have found themselves in the studio’s projects, within art and culture; and yet, they exist on their own.
This proves the tension within his work: on the one hand, Michaël Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak, by letting their names be dropped and replaced by the initial of their first name, thereby somehow disappearing personally from it, accept the fact that individuality — and in a sense the full meaning of humanity — have to disappear within a world of signs, where humanity has lost its centrality, to become a part of a world that includes machines, objects, animals, plants, all equal as inhabitants of a shared space. Modernity — the dynamics of history — governs this approach.
On the other hand, Mathias Augustyniak’s drawing practice, articulated within the human world and for the human world, manifests the continued relevance of this presence, essential when almost absent. The draughtsman is a collector of images, encounters, things, visions, that are only allowed to him insofar as he is a human being. Drawing is a reminder of the humanity of things, and Mathias Augustyniak is part of the history of representation — a history as old as humanity. In his awareness to his belonging lies his other identity — that of a classic.
There certainly are many bridges between both approaches: classicism in its fullest sense is far less timeless than one would expect — much more located; modernity includes and encompasses the most classic roots. These works remind us that the two terms are by no means contradictory: as individuality and things, signs and persons, words and images, the classic and the modern cohere, more often than not, and in the end they state the complexity of human existence, and its profound coincidences.
PIFO Gallery is proud to present the first exhibition in China of Liliane Tomasko - Liliane Tomasko: Feeling Folding. She has exhibited widely in US and European museums and galleries and her work is to be found in public collections across the West, from IVAM in Valencia Spain to the Kunstmuseum in Bern to Try-me in Virginia, USA. This exhibition will provide a historical survey of Liliane Tomasko’s painting between 1999 and 2016 as well as three photographic works and one sculpture created exclusively for the venue.
As the curator Jiang Yuehong says, ‘Look at Liliane Tomasko’s work and one encounters intriguing paper bags, yearning folds and dream-like shadows, engendered through an extraordinarily rich visual vocabulary’.
Liliane Tomasko began by taking photographs of ordinary domestic objects - yet the polaroid itself produced an ambiguous image at the same time as it recorded the details of domestic life. Memories hidden in folds, imaginary lives concealed in bags - it is as if the artist has found a rich inner life through domestic objects. She transfigures matter in specific spaces: “...I felt there was so much around us that was quietly interesting and calling to be looked at.”
One reference point might be Berthe Morisot, the great impressionist painter who found life in fabrics and textiles, another might be the Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi who found in domestic objects a way of articulating inner life.
As the artist herself says, “The paintings were not based on photography, were painted without a reference to something seen, only working with the memory of fabric, linens and textiles in general.” These mute objects from daily life - “…an odd shadow cast against the wall, a dust filled corner of a window or clothing and other textiles casually thrown to the ground or onto a bed” - have become more abstract and freer. The emotional life that these recent paintings incarnate reveals itself to be wide and just as marvelous as that incarnated in the earlier objects and fabrics. This exhibition gives a Chinese audience an opportunity to enter the world of a very fine artist.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1967, Liliane Tomasko studied at Camberwell School of Art and Chelsea College of Art, London. She received her MFA from the Royal Academy of Art, London in 1998 and since her work has been exhibited widely in Europe and the USA. Liliane Tomasko’s works are included in the following public collections: Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern, Switzerland; Hilti Art Foundation, Schaan, Liechtenstein; IVAM-Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Valencia, Spain; and K20/K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany and Try-me, Richmond, VA. Tomasko lives and works in New York, Barcelona and Munich.
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