‘In Toby Ziegler’s paintings, imagery borrowed from art history is crafted from patterns of identical stars and discs – clouds might be borrowed from Constable, body parts from 16th-century pornography. Yet there’s no doubt his visuals originate anywhere other than CGI. Laid out according to exacting laws of perspective, they are 3D-looking vistas with illusory, kaleidoscopic depths’
(S. Sharwin quaoted in, ‘Artist of the week 113: Toby Ziegler’, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/nov/10/artist-week-toby-ziegler [accessed 7 September 2014]).
Constellation after constellation of intoxicating geodesic pixilation pan across Toby Ziegler’s breakthrough 2004 painting, Designated for Leisure. This monumental canvas took pride of place in the Royal Academy’s Expander exhibition in the year of its completion and subsequently travelled to the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide and the Saatchi Gallery, London as one of the signature works in Newspeak – British Art Now. The tessellated polygons that construct an achingly beautiful hyper-reality in Designated for Leisure owe their luminosity to the reflective industrial fabric onto which Ziegler paints. His early production process, of which this is an iconic example, subjects an original image to a series of technological reconstitutions. In the case of Designated for leisure, a computer generated vista of nameless parkland is transformed through the prism of Ziegler’s technological manipulation into a shimmering wonderland.
The young London based artist constantly seeks to estrange familiar subject matter by submitting it to a complex gestation in advanced image software. The design for Designated for Leisure, produced by the codified palette of his computer and recycled through multiple permutations during an exhaustive preparatory process, is transferred onto scotch-brite fabric and then drawn out by hand. It is this interjection of the artist’s touch - the trace of his presence - that produces imperfections in the translation of the design. Situated between the original image and final painting, between the artist’s subjectivity and his craft, the computer functions for Ziegler as ‘a membrane between motif and process’ (T. Ziegler, quoted in ‘Private View London: Toby Ziegler’, in Modern Painters, February 2012, p. 22). In Designated for Leisure, the slippages in the final work, the scarcely perceptible creases in an otherwise immaculate presentation, are vital punctuations that retain the gestural in order to off-set the geometric.
These moments of fallibility in the production of the work are crucial for Ziegler, signaling his fundamental concern with how a painter might both depict and participate in the inter-connectedness of vast and intricate information systems. Designated for Leisure actively participates in Ziegler’s investigation into what painting can offer a society already saturated by visual information and rapidly evolving image technologies. Positioning the work within the tradition of landscape painting - a genre that celebrates our desire to escape into nature - enables Ziegler to connect his dialogue with contemporary image production to a historical desire to be absorbed by the pleasurable stimuli of the organic world. Designated for Leisure suggests that, although nature has been submitted and rendered unto 21st century technologies which have provided new ways of escaping into a sublime constellation of phenomena, our desire to be enchanted remains intact.