Dirk Skreber's large scale paintings careen and hurtle along the highway of art history. Like an eighteen wheeler commandeered by a hopped up fugitive from the law, barreling toward some impending disaster, Gelb Lok (Yellow Locomotive) presents us with that thrill and horror of speed. Never enough power, never enough nitro injection.
Collapsing representation and abstraction, Skreber builds up large expanses of color, punctuated by precision lines to allow his subjects to pop in and out of focus. Through addressing the surfaces of his paintings as micro-landscapes or miniature sculptures, Skreber provides the viewer with a visual rhythm and pacing that allows the eye to race across them.
Juxtaposed with this speed, is the hulking behemoth of the subject. A canary yellow locomotive weighs heavily at the center of the composition. Its momentum and movement frozen, silenced within the deadened stillness of the gray sky and ground. In the same arresting manner in which Jeff Koons addresses this subject in Jim Beam-J.B. Turner Train, Skreber also mines this symbol for it's metaphorical quality of nostalgia and loss. The formal tension between the horizon and tracks disappearing to the right of the frame give the sense that acceleration may be possible is accentuated by the waning import of this means of transportation.
The machine-like perfection of the painting belies the deep humanity embedded in its making. Just as the locomotive dwarfs and multiplies the power of the engineer, so too Skreber's work addresses the limited ability of the individual to act in a world where machines continue to exert ever increasing control.