Body search: how artist Toby Ziegler used Google to remix Matisse

Body search: how artist Toby Ziegler used Google to remix Matisse

British artist Toby Ziegler regularly explores ‘digital technology and the things that happen between it and analogue world’, and his latest works on show at the New Art Centre near Salisbury combine traditional coil-pot making, screen printing, painting and 3D printing techniques.  

The show, entitled ‘Slave’, is inspired by Matisse, but Zielgler’s starting point was Google Images. He lowered the resolution of various Matisse bronzes until they became unrecognisable, abstract blurs, before turning them into hand coiled clay models. ‘I wanted them to look like they had come off a 3D printer, although they were made by hand,’ he explains. The clay models were then 3D printed and cast in aluminium. ‘Along the way I kept interfering with the printer, disrupting it, to make it fail, in the same way that coil pots slump and fall.’

Installation view of ‘Slave’ at the New Art Centre. © The artist. Courtesy of New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park

The resulting sculptures are rococo forms with disruptive flourishes, baroque pieces that have been battered into the twenty first century. ‘They look like geological forms, like stalactites or layers of sedimentary rock, he muses, ‘but at the same time they look forced, not natural at all.’ A Google image search, this time for Matisse’s Large Reclining Nude (1935) provided the source imagery for Ziegler’s two paintings, and Matisse’s reliefs depicting progressively abstracted representations of a woman’s back are the inspiration for the four new screen prints that fill the gallery. 

It’s the second time Ziegler has shown at Roche Court, a 19th-century country estate with its own art gallery and sculpture park. The New Art Centre is one of three contemporary spaces on the grounds and Ziegler’s sculptures, cast in oxidised aluminium will remain in situ until 26 November. ‘They will turn white as they age,’ he says. ‘One day, they might almost look like marble.’

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