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Tobias Pils, Untitled (flowers), 2016, mixed media on canvas, 12' × 6' 8".

Tobias Pils

Capitain Petzel

Tobias Pils, Untitled (flowers), 2016, mixed media on canvas, 12' × 6' 8".

Tobias Pils paints with a reduced palette of black, white, and gray. If at first glance his pictures have a graphic, drawing-like character, however, this turns out to be deceptive: As paintings, they are as opulent as they are subtle. The Austrian artist’s recent exhibition demonstrated that he has developed an idiosyncratic pictorial language in which figurative and floral elements seem to have been set loose among latently abstract, free-form ornamental structures such that each of these aspects—representation and abstraction—interpenetrates and interprets the other. The paintings remain, in their complexity, compelling and fluently composed. Traces of the artist’s hand are always legible within them; paint is sometimes applied across broad swaths of the canvas in a rapid alla prima ductus, and sometimes details are built up in layered impasto. Elsewhere, the untreated

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