the many faces

Tilo Uischner and his confident balancing act

There is much to say in favour of sitting on the proverbial fence at times. The art of Uischner stays comfortably atop without falling flat on either side of the fence. On the one side you have the blatantly sentimental — and on the other the contrived narrative-building art so epidemic of our present age. As long as the Uischner’s stays up there, we are in for a treat.

What we have here is portraiture of great standing – no less. The works tell us what it is like to be human in all its guises. It reveals vulnerabilities, human interconnectivity, curiosity, and a range of emotions. Sometimes you even detect a sense of foreboding and hope in one motif, although the two are contradictory.

The first and lasting impression

The impact of the portraits is strong without going for the jugular. Having imported the jargon from advertising photography, Alex Katz terms this ‘fast light’. It is fine and dandy that it has an official name. What he refers to, though, is that split second reading in which the eye is not invited to stray off. E.g. pop art appears to have adopted the notion wholeheartedly, and in practice it proves harder than it sounds.

Having said that, we all now accept as science that the eye wanders about. It never rests. We also readily accept that human cognition carries on processing long after sensory stimulation. Yet in Uischner’s depiction of direct gazes, and downcast faces you always have a clear focal point and fast light. In turn it draws you in before you explore props and context. The latter then help discover subtleties as a second reading. At that point we discover an attention to detail that cannot fail to delight us.

Acrylic on plywood lends itself well to this job. Part and parcel of choosing these materials is that some people could consume much more mental energy on the choice of material, and less so on the substance of the artist’s work.

But so be it. Since we then can’t avoid discussing the unavoidable, wood is a rational choice of medium. For one, it adds an almost tactile quality to the works. Besides, you can’t help thinking that it is has a living and breathing quality that complements the portrayed individuals. While wood may have been art supplies since the earliest civilisations, it fell out of favour in the 17th century due to it warping and cracking. Ironically, treated plywood ought to have been the fix all along. Add to that, the possibilities of intarsia, and you have the exquisite and unique  touch of the artist.

About the artist

Tilo Uischner was born in Riesa, Germany in 1969. He has lived and worked in Berlin since 1989, the epic year of the German reunification. In fact a month before the fall of the wall, he began studying for a degree in economics at the the Humboldt University, the prestigious East German bastion of learning. After this academic stint in number crunching, he found himself work as a creative consultant for event organisers – or rather the work increasingly found him, and he surrendered to a life of full-time creativity.



© Photography by Pablo Ruiz, all rights reserved.