“The whole picture was part of the classic painting competition. I thought to myself: ‘I have paint at my disposal, brushes, and canvas, and I will make a painting out of them.’ It’s all pure painting.” Thomas Arnolds, 2020
About the artist
In his work, Thomas Arnolds pursues the fundamental interest in constantly re-exploring the possibilities and conditions of painting. In doing so, he develops a complex and at the same time consistent position that negotiates central issues of the medium in a coherent balance of at first glance contradicting designs: abstraction vs. figuration; minimal vs. gestural; space vs. image; surface vs. matter or hard-edge vs. free duct-drawing… the essence of his paintings lies in their surprising but always concise combination.
The visual vocabulary manifests itself as broadly as it is consistent – interiors, tool fragments, and banal everyday objects meet crude bonsai arrangements, architectural forms, or the iconography of ancient columns. The correct representation of the selected image content is of secondary importance, rather the motifs serve as placeholders or a pure ‘occasion’ to step in front of the canvas at all. Arnolds always works in series, but deliberately does not develop his work linearly in clearly defined groups of works. Based on an initial, conceptual outlining, what has already been introduced is mixed up in the process and is confronted with new technology or changed painterly access.
The fundamental meaning of ‘matter color’ remains constant, which Arnolds always knows how to use in its deep quality between materiality and volume, between symbolism and metaphysical aspects. Thomas Arnolds has created a set of instruments that are as precise as they can be used variably, a ‘free set of rules’ between intellect and ‘gutfeeling’, reflection and anarchy, with which he pushes his oeuvre forward as a radical proposal on painting.
“I keep jumping back in time and drawing on my own body of work. I have always made deliberate breaks between the various blocks of work, but I know full well that I can go back, and you can see how older works keep being revisited. This lets me stay within my own system as I expand and reinforce it.” Thomas Arnolds, 2020
The monograph is dedicated to a synoptic presentation of diverse series of works with their inner logic as well as peculiarities and divergences. With a conversation with the artist by Markus Mascher and Carolin Scharpff-Striebich and an essay by Larissa Kikol.