Tobias Pils

1971 (Linz/Upper Austria), lives and works in Vienna

From 1990 to 1994, he studied painting and graphic art at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. In 1991, the artist exhibited at Haus Wittgenstein, Vienna and in 1993, he cooperated with the Viennese art gallery Würthle at the biennial “Intergraf Alpe-Adria” in Udine. In 1996, his works were exhibited at the Kunsthalle Bonn and at the Viennese art gallery Ariadne. In 1999, Pils designed an “Art in Building” project for the wall of the “Styria” hall in the foyer of Grazer Congress. In 2002, he held an exhibition at the art gallery Eugen Lendl, and in 2005, at the Galerie CC, Graz. Besides dealing with fine arts, the artist is also interested in literature, regularly publishing books (of his own texts and texts by Friederike Mayröcker, a. o.).

For one part of his oeuvre, he worked with Indian ink and graphite on paper, integrating the white color and the fragile materiality of the paper as an essential resource for the design and composition process. The paper is not only his base, but a design material and motif of its own right. White virgin paper surfaces are embraided with condensed painted areas tempting the eye to see fictitious rooms, landscapes and objects, whereas they also constitute a means for realizing the temptation at the same moment. In the glazed transparent Indian ink he uses, there appear circles and webs of lines, tightly drawn sometimes, penetrating or delineating the painted areas like a sensitive structural frame or a subcutaneous web, or in contrast with them. Sometimes, his graphics appear as pseudo-technoid apparatuses or like architecture in the middle of abysmal-oneiric landscapes, although they are nothing but loose constellations of faces, lines and shadings.

To look at these pictures means to engage in tracking them down, to condense them into configurations and to lose sight of them again, to suppose something concrete and, simultaneously, to look through its fictitious structure. When looking at these pictures, you realize how seductive the gaze can be, how it interprets signs and markings as representations and how much “seeing shapes” constitutes an attempt at orientation - despite all facts. Pils keeps this association game up in the air, tilting it as a subject into awareness. Thus we are confronted with works that bear witness of illusiveness and ephemeral connections without hiding it. Works that deliberately flee the unambiguous, communicating the permanent deviance from easy ways out, are the most precise task a work of art can fulfil. (Rainer Fuchs about Tobias Pils)

The artist has also designed many installations, such as, in 2004, the Leiter, murmelnde Identität (Ladder, whispering identity), which was installed at the Österreichischer Skulpturenpark. With this work of art, the artist intended to deal with Austria’s past. According to him, the Evil, to which heaps of earth refer, is buried in the earth, and pleads in favour of an honest dealing with our own history. Whilst a sound installation acts as a memorial, whose dark sounds remind us of the Third Reich, the surrounding natural background noises create a connection to reality. One of the most interesting features – the bottom rungs of the ladder are missing - suggests that there is no chance of escape, thus forcing people to deal with their own past.

In 1992, Pils was awarded the Upper Austian Prize for young talents, and in 1993 the First Prize of the Austrian graphics competition in Innsbruck. In the following year, the artist received the Otto Mauer Prize and the Prize of Honor of the Federal Ministry of Economy and Research. In 2004, he was awarded the Recognition award of Bauholding Kunstforum.