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Matthias Groebel

Untitled, 1994

acrylic on canvas
95 x 95cm
About Matthias Groebel
In the late 1980s, Groebel developed a machine that allowed him to transfer images from the television onto canvas, a complex process involving multiple stages and applications of paint with an airbrush pistol. Groebel’s production process played on a reciprocal and closely intertwined relationship between artist/painter, technology, and generative form-finding in an era of profound technological change and the digital turn. The paintings are based on what were ubiquitous images in the media of the time – simultaneously generic and highly suggestive – and have, as the artist himself says, “an effect, even when you don’t want them to.” Groebel’s paintings offer a precise portrait of the televisual landscape of the 1990s and its specific mixture of voyeurism, reality TV, permanent self-staging, and surveillance. They convey a feeling for analog television’s hypnotic spaces of experience – its flickering, backlit, and low-resolution images, its abundance of talking heads and close-ups of bodies and body parts, and its transgressive intimacy. Where the Hollywood star on celluloid seemed unreachable, television projected a sense of familiarity and openness – a sort of seeing, speaking surface that looked out at us from within the device. His images have a mysterious physical presence and convey a powerful sense of psychological latency, bringing out the subtle tensions and power structures inherent within a gesture, a gaze, or the biting of nails, often contrary to the intrinsic and profit-driven agendas of the entertainment industry