Saint Louis Art Museum

1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park
MO - 63110-1380 St. Louis

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Tim Eitel’s canvases combine two dominant strains in contemporary painting—geometric abstraction and photographically influenced realism. In the dialogue between these two idioms, Eitel creates works that possess a preternatural stillness. His pictures are also rife with references to the histories of photography, film, and modern painting, lending multiple points of entry into the work. In the four years since Eitel completed his studies at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, he has become known for large (and sometimes tiny), crisply painted work featuring young, hip protagonists framed by modernist architectural interiors. For example, several works from 2001 and 2002 take the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt (MMK) as a backdrop and portray visitors encountering spaces within Viennese architect Hans Hollein’s acutely angled building. Cool—both in terms of palette and sensibility—the works often depict figures in profile or seen from behind. Even when pairs or clusters of people are shown, each individual appears utterly self-contained. Their sole activity seems to be the act of looking, whether out of windows, at paintings, or, occasionally, through lenses to shoot photographs.

Representations of work by other artists (ranging from Piet Mondrian to Takashi Murakami) inflect some of Eitel’s MMK paintings and others set in exhibition spaces with a Pop sensibility. However, the works in the present exhibition, particularly the four large canvases—Lying Figure, Trailer, Helicopter, and Flag—demonstrate a marked shift in tone. The degree of isolation represented in these works has moved beyond garden-variety alienation to a dispassionate exploration of existential themes.

Tim Eitel condenses a range of sources—including the work of Edouard Manet, Thomas Demand, and Jeff Wall along with snapshots he takes himself—to create archetypal images. Each of the large paintings in the exhibition feature a central, iconic figure or object inhabiting a dark, murky zone evocative of fog or a formless void. Subdued in palette, expansive in scale, the monumental paintings in this exhibition are profoundly austere; they convey a sense of emotional twilight, of anticipation, of tenuous suspension within the eye of a storm.

Currents 96: Tim Eitel is part of a series of exhibitions featuring the work of contemporary artists at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The exhibition is curated by Robin Clark, associate curator of contemporary art.

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Currents 96: Tim Eitel
Kurator: Robin Clark