Working within a palette of blacks and whites and the range of grays that can be made from them, Tobias Pils (b. 1971, Linz, Austria; lives and works in Vienna) creates mixed-media paintings full of abstract and representational elements. These elements are often arranged so that they flow from one to the next seemingly of their own accord, obeying the dictates of a painterly logic that generates meaning through the accumulation of many small moments. As such, Pils’s works are endlessly captivating as arrangements of textures, flows, and material invention—in a sense, as symphonic, non-objective compositions, even when their mythological content and primal imagery tempt narrative readings. This syncretic approach reflects a mind that revels in contradictions, even as it seeks to suture together contrasting passages with a subtle and virtuosic array of mark-making strategies that are alternately bold, incisive, impressionistic, and completely open to the innate properties of paint medium and support. Pils works at a variety of scales and in different contexts, responding to the urgency of his own intuition and the external constraints of architectural and institutional settings with equal fluency. In each of these forums, he locates the places where the vast and the intimate meet, both in the physical world and the human psyche alike.
In 2020, a permanent, large-scale installation of paintings by Tobias Pils was inaugurated at Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany, and a major permanent fresco was installed at the Renzo Piano-designed campus of École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Josef Albers Museum, Bottrop, Germany (2017); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (with Michael Williams, 2017); Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2016); and Secession, Vienna (2013), among other institutions. Recent group shows include Picasso et la bande dessinée, Musée Picasso, Paris (2020), Jay DeFeo – The Ripple Effect, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2018); Le Consortium Collection, Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2018); and Spiegelnde Fenster, 21er Haus, Vienna (2017). Pils’s work is part of the permanent collections of Albertina, Vienna; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; and Le Consortium, Dijon, France; among other institutions.