The starting point for Scheibitz’s artistic practice is a steadily growing collection of archival material that resembles a loose visual grammar of the present. It includes art historical reproductions, pictures from fashion, music and popular magazines, his own photographs and much more. The artist draws on this archive for his work, choosing elements from it according to associative and formal criteria. His motifs range from houses and other kinds of architecture to landscapes, typographic letters, playing cards, portraits, still lifes and Japanese manga. Afterwards he submits them to an ambivalent, constantly self-recalibrating process of sketching, photographing and reworking that radically erases the elements’ content-specific references and traces of its origin, consequently arriving at what the artist has called “the edge of an invention.” The resulting images neither mimetically represent anything nor are they purely symbolic or abstract. Instead, they appear as autonomous entities that are at once figure and form, object and sign. Scheibitz explores an interface that few would have thought existed—a realm between autonomous composition and barely-recognizable reference to reality, between figuration and abstraction.
The artist shows similar rigor in his dismantling of the conventional distinction between painting and sculpture. Here, too, he skillfully allows the two antagonistic poles to collapse into one another. On the whole his paintings convey the impression of objecthood, while his sculptural objects seem oriented towards pictorial visual space. His works in both media are products of an act of transformation that radically intertwines the two- and three-dimensional and is apparently aimed at the creation of an intermediate space between image and object.
The repertoire of recurring, yet varying biomorphic and constructivist forms in the artist’s works can sometimes seem like an indecipherable system of signs. The work creates an illusion of order only to destroy it at the same time. This ambiguous evocation of sign and order systems is not an aesthetic end in itself, but rather an expression of the artist’s interest in the idea of the index and in the explanatory, analytical and coding systems we use to decipher the world—most visibly the alphabet, the periodic table of elements or mathematical symbols. In a parallel layer of meaning the works’ titles often reference scientists, musicians, authors, places or events that are related to the various systems and hold significance for the artist’s conceptual work.
Thomas Scheibitz’s works exude something enigmatic and often hold an extraordinary pull. Though he introduces subject matter into the work, the pictures resist narration of any kind. Long vanishing lines and chromatic gradations suggest pictorial space, yet also tip into radical flatness. A rigorous painting style meets post-gestural smears of color, graphic and sculptural impulses. His work can in some respects be understood as a tightrope walk—a dazzling, extraordinary path between mimesis and inventive construction, sense and non-sense, contemporaneity and timelessness.