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Matthias Groebel
Universal Concepts Unlimited
Upstairs in the gallery's screening
room, Matthias Groebel's Skull
Hop is a fiteen-minute video loop
that features twin dancing skulls
and skeletal extremities morphing in
and out of background abstrac-
tions set to tribal/synthetic music.
(The dance macabre,indeed.) The
paintings on view in the main
gallery are reworked stills isolated
from video Groebel shot in vari-
ous grim locations around Europe.
The paintings are created using a
device, built by the artist, that air-
brushes digital images onto can-
vas. His method of working as
well as his subject matter com-
ment on art historical traditions
and religious iconography as well
as the grizzly primary sources of
his images, such as a crypt in the
church of Saint Ursula in Cologne
which entombs the remains from
the legendary fourth-century
slaughter of 11,000 virgins, and
the Royal Museum for Central
Africa in Tervuren, Belgium,
which houses anthropological
findings. These are places built to
preserve information and relics,
thus the exhibiton's title, "Collec-
tive Memories".
A few of the paintings depict
proto-humanoid bones alongside
those of modern humans, sug-
gesting scientific overtones
among the slew of references. In
the gray-green pallor of the exhi-
biton, a faint dash of red orna-
menting a skull in one piece re­
calls rock band The Grateful
Dead's Iogo of a skull and roses.
Other work pay homage to James
Ensor or the obscure Renaissance
painter Simone Baschenis. The
digital medium's inherently dubi-
ous veracity points us to the
questionable nature of history it-
self, depicted and retold by count-
less victors throughout the ages.
-Christopher Chambers
70 Flash Art