We have pleasure in presenting new cut-outs, medium and large format silhouettes, by the German artist Stefan Thiel (born 1965 in Berlin, lives and works in Berlin), in our next exhibition. His work was recently on display at Art Unlimited 2007 in Basel and in Freiburg (Germany), and last year it was shown in galleries in Berlin and Amsterdam and, in 2004, in the Kunstmuseum Solothurn (Switzerland).
Silhouettes are reminiscent of shadow play, or even of painting and drawing classes at school. However, there is nothing antiquated or old-fashioned about Stefan Thiel's work – on the contrary: they have a fresh, exciting and subtle effect, especially since he undermines the typical two- dimensional aspect of conventional cut-outs with effects of perspective and depth. Working from photographic originals, Thiel explores the motifs in terms of their suitability as silhouettes, i.e. he works with contrasty subjects which he reduces to the high contrasts of black and white. With the help of a slide projector, Thiel traces the outlines of his motifs with a light pencil and consequently with a scalpel. This tricky work is very exacting and time-consuming, a production process that effectively counteracts the ever increasing tempo of today's economy and media. On the other hand, the cut-outs bear witness to an obsessive industriousness, a diligence that Thiel evidenced as early as 1994-1998 when he translated the texts from Marquis de Sade's The Days of Sodom or The School of Excess into Braille.
The title of the exhibition Schwarze Pumpe (Black Pump) refers to the community of the same name, which, in the days of the GDR, was one of the world's largest refineries of brown coal and which was incorporated into the city of Spremberg in September 1998. We tend to think of such a place as being pitch black and inhabited by dark figures, comparable to Thiel's silhouettes of city views. At the same time, the artist uses his reference to the black pump to provoke contrasts, allowing, for example, a breath of luxury to penetrate the atmosphere of the Ruhr Basin in the form of a luxurious crocodile skin handbag decorated with roses. Apart from the handbag, the other motifs are quite unspectacular, for instance a maypole, ornamented and edged textiles, or sections of landscapes. The landscapes are based on photographs from Thiel's immediate surroundings. The aesthetic effect of the cut-outs lend Thiel's motifs a poetic, sometimes even dramatic impact. In addition, the works are strongly characterised by the reflection of light, sequins or from modelled surfaces of, for instance, water.
During his work on translating the photograph into the technique of the cut-out, Thiel explores the displacement of meaning thus engendered, namely from an image with a documentary character into an indefinite, fictitious sphere. [Text: Dominique von Burg | Translation: Maureen Oberli-Turner]