Fabian Treiber’s Beautifully Disturbing Abstraction Interferes With the Normal



Fabian Treiber (b. 1986) works within the frame of abstraction, yet important elements of figurative art coexist in his artworks. Moving along a logic of shifting boundaries, between the abstract and the figurative world, the visual depictions that Treiber uses derive from the everyday image décor. Uniting the two art forms would be considered to be a challenge. But creating a balance does not seem necessary. His visual ambivalence still stands well and provides a more distinctive character as well as a greater quality by being flexible and open to stimulate more than one interpretations.
Body Doesn’t Know, 2017, Exhibition View at Galerie Mark Muller, Photo: Conradin Frei, Courtesy the artist
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Seemingly unfinished compositions in Treiber’s fragmented spaces look like asking for further painting work to achieve a final visual representation. However, this is not required. The “undeveloped” paintings remain alive and equally coexist next to the complete compositions. These unfinished details can be read as an act to describe the journey of Treiber’s art process. For him, the importance of the process really does matter as he aims to tell a story within the strict boundaries of his canvas. In general, his canvases provide the unique space for these processes to take place, to project them and to establish new ones. Furthermore, the artist invites the visitor to intellectually fill the gaps using his/her mind to suggest more interpretations. By ignoring the end artwork result, the artist raises the potential variety of explanations regarding his visual composition. In order to issue the challenge, Treiber lays down the gauntlet to his art encounters and presents a creative interplay of fierce imagination.
Body Doesn’t Know, 2017, Exhibition View at Galerie Mark Muller, Photo: Conradin Frei, Courtesy the artist
The canvas operates as a fertile and autonomous space for Treiber. Colourful palettes and manifold pictorial depictions build a state of freedom in their own right. The German artist employs dynamic gestures of abstraction to delineate the artistic arrangements on his canvas deconstructing the shape and lines of his depicted objects. Due to an underlying sense of an illustrative simplicity, almost diagrammatic, Treiber’s codes of communication subsume deeper functions. Some of his artworks can be seen as contemporary still-life paintings that highlight his particular language of sketchy-looking graphic representations.
Fabian Treiber, 2017, Rover, 100 x80 cm, Courtesy the artist
From another point of view, the importance of fragmentary arrangements is also an additional visual information in his vocabulary introducing a graphic notion of transparency. Attempting to explore the space in which Treiber’s paints, the visual effect of transparency works effectively as it blurs the lines between abstraction and figuration. Probably, that visual effect seems to be a critical point in the artist’s technique. Along with a variety of pale colour use and mixture on canvas, the line’s designing process consist the main core of Treiber’s artistry, irrespective if it represents a vase, an apple or another domestic landscape; whether abstract or not.
Fabian Treiber, 2017, Drugstore, 190 x150 cm, Courtesy the artist
Born in Ludwigsburg, Treiber lives and works in Stuttgart, Germany. Along with important awards, grants and scholarships, such as the Silkscreen Grant from the Lepsien Art Foundation in 2017 and the Prize for Graphics of the Walter Stohrer Foundation in 2014, his artworks have been exhibited internationally in many art galleries in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, France and beyond.
In his interview with ArtVerge, Treiber shares his approach on art issues and provides some interesting answers about his daily life. Check it out!
Fabian Treiber, 2017, Bowl, 40 cm x120cm, Courtesy the artist
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work? 
Fabian Treiber: My work is very process-based, so the process, in general, is somehow the main topic of my entire work. I define it often as a kind of dialogue between me and the painting, which starts often with a first sketch on a raw canvas. From this point on I am, you could say, circling around some terms or perceptions, which I try to transfer directly onto the canvas. In the course of this, I am questioning a large scale of different materials. Layer by layer, I am focused on losing my own pictorial vocabulary which gave me the first impetus and starts to find shapes, which are getting more and more autonomous. For me, it is more a way of finding pictures than to create them.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
FT: Moving, Disturbing, Emotional.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
FT: There are many of course, and it slightly changes from time to time, but in general I am a big fan of Pierre Bonnard, David Hockney and El Greco. What I discovered this year for me when I had the chance to visit a wonderful show, was Michael Berryhill.

AV: When was the latest video you watched on social media and had an impact on your mood? Which one?
FT: Oh, I can’t remember when. I think it was the trailer for the new Blade Runner movie, which appeared in my feed and I felt so curious. I like this kind of dystopian world, especially when the music has a direct impact on the things you see.
AV: Creating a new painting is a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
FT: Yeah, it does – I wish I could say no, but my friends would tell you probably other stories about. I think over the years creating artworks it is also questioning and getting to know yourself better or at least you get proof of things you’ve suspected concerning yourself. I am quite serious and very focused when it comes to work, and also quite comfortable to be alone. Probably these are things, that are good for an artist working in his studio, but it is also sometimes a curse in daily life. I had days in which, the only person I talked to, was the cashier in the supermarket, these days always seem like very weird ones. And of course, there is this trembling inside you, when you’re on a new artwork, especially when there is an upcoming show and you’re trying to figure out a kind of choreography between your recent works. These days, I am sometimes apathetic or buried in thoughts.
AV: How do you know when a painting is finished?
FT: When there’s nothing left to do. As I said, in my case, it is a kind of dialogue and if the painting is slightly not questioning me anymore, it is probably close to finish. Generally, I try to keep them for many days around me, to be sure.

AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
FT: I am working in a small old carpentry not too far away from the city center. I really like it, It’s more of a cave, because there aren’t many windows but it feels like a good place to go to work. Like a workshop. Probably there are some obvious affects on my work, like the size of the canvas or something like that. I would say it is mainly that I created a studio space over the years, which made the things we talked about possible. Honestly, it’s not cosy. Everything has its place. Maybe my artworks are not speaking for themselves, but I need lots of structure. (haha)
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
FT: Besides some openings, the last big exhibition I visited was Marie-Louise Ekman in the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
FT: That’s not easy to say, probably I wish they’re getting some kind of feeling.

AV: What does your mum think about your art?
FT: She’s a big fan and is very proud.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
FT: Definitely a morning person, regarding my daily life and my work. But I love the night, to calm down and leave the work behind.
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
FT: Half full.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
FT: I feel quite comfortable right now. I had some exhibitions during the last months in different spaces and countries. In the course of this, I met so many nice people and there are several exhibitions all over Europe next year to come. My plans are to stay in touch with them and go on with my work in the studio. I can’t wait to get back to work in the next months and I’m curious where it takes me next.

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