contemporary art

Toby Ziegler

United Kingdom 1972

Sculpture, Painting

Toby Ziegler
Toby Ziegler
United Kingdom
May 14, 2015

Can we safely say that we are entirely sure about anything today? There’s so much overlapping of history and the present time, between what appears clear and what is blurry. Toby Ziegler, a British painter and sculptor, places his work somewhere between figurative and abstract, using classical composition and manipulating it digitally. The working idea is similar for both fields – he takes an image of a historical artwork that intrigues him, takes away the initial subject, reinventing the piece itself. Uniquely executed, the pieces borrow imagery from art history, but new visuals are created by using CGI. The paintings, laid out according to exacting laws of perspective, look like 3D vistas with illusory, kaleidoscopic depths, while his sculptures appear as virtual blueprints for artworks.[1]

Toby Ziegler is a london based individual who addresses the alienation, using aluminium objects. He appeared on the news on multiple occasions during 2008, 2009, and 2012
Toby Ziegler – Spectre Vs Rector, 2015 – image courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery

Toby Ziegler – Between Painting and Sculpture

Born in London, Ziegler studied at Fine Art at Central St. Martin’s School of Art. For as long as he could remember, the idea of different interpretations of things and objects was an important theme in his work, certainly since he left college. Going through a crisis and deciding not to produce, the artist felt like there was no way for him to paint and make gestures anymore. “This idea of a gesture being a form of self-expression felt like such a loaded cliché that it seemed very hard to actually make a gesture in the wake of post-modernism.”[2] When he started making work again, he was trying to make himself almost machine-like and began using a computer to model things in 3D programs. The beginning of the work includes a piece of art history, such as old Flemish paintings or timeworn photographs of archaeological artifacts. In his hands, the images of these artworks begin to change as he transforms them by using an airbrush, imitating pixels with paint and digital manipulation. By bleaching history away, Ziegler reinvents the subjects as something new and exciting, giving them a warm welcome in the present times. Sculptures, built up of faced forms composed of multiple cells, are semi-abstractions, filled with resin in some cases to appear more robust. Searching for a material that was malleable yet rigid, he began applying thin aluminium sheets around 2014, something he has been experimenting with for some time.[3]

When selected exhibitions are observed, group or solo, tracking down Toby Ziegler’s influence gets easy

Toby Ziegler constantly works on alienation of objects, a process that occurs in his london studio, mainly from 2008 and 2009 onward. He was featured in the news alongside John Houck
Toby Ziegler – Involuntary Memory Event, 2010 (Left) / Minor Distraction, 2010 (Right) – image courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery

Selected Exhibitions

It is interesting to keep track of the specific artworks that have inspired him throughout the years. The exhibitions, both solo and group, are the perfect opportunity in order to establish a reliable timeline of influences. The Cripples, a show from 2012, included sculptures that began with a Bruegel painting titled The Cripples. He started to re-imagine the figures in the painting on a computer using 3-D modeling software and as they evolved, a series of other associations emerged.[4] In 2014, the artist had his first solo show in Hong Kong, where he showed a new body of work is concerned with the relationship between control and abandon, subjecting images to a process of obliteration, in which representational pictorial information gives way to new abstract forms. These works are adapted from Evening Landscape-Peasants and Mounted Figures created by the 18th Century British landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough.[5]

Toby Ziegler lives and works in London.


  1. Sherwin S. Artist of the week 113: Toby Ziegler, The Guardian [September 1,2016]
  2. Webber J. Artist Interview: Toby Ziegler, Port Magazine [September 1,2016]
  3. Wright K. Toby Ziegler, sculptor: ‘There is a dialogue between the sculpture and the painting’, Independent [September 1,2016]
  4. Hawkins S. Emerging: Toby Ziegler, Wonderland Magazine [September 1,2016]
  5. Anonymous. Press release, Simon Lee gallery [September 1,2016]

Featured image: Toby Ziegler – portrait (detail) – photo credits Teri Pengilley, image via

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Unused PotentialGalerie Max Hetzler, ParisSolo
2014Toby Ziegler: Expanded Narcissistic EnvelopeThe Hepworth Wakefield, WakefieldSolo
2014Toby ZieglerSimon Lee Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2014Conflict and Collisions: New Contemporary SculptureThe Hepworth Wakefield, WakefieldGroup
2014NewArtCentreRoche Sculpture Park and Gallery, SalisburyGroup
2014Halftone: Through the GridGalerie Max Hetzler, Berlin and ParisGroup
2014Landscape: The Virtual, The Actual, The PossibleGuandong Times Museum, Ghuangzhou Group
2014Love Story - The Collection Anne & Wolfgang TitzeGalerie Belvedere, ViennaGroup
2014Walk The LineSimon Lee Gallery, Hong KongGroup
2013Borderline SomethingGalerie Max Hetzler, BerlinSolo
2013REMEMBER EVERYTHING - 40 Years Galerie Max HetzlerGalerie Max Hetzler, BerlinGroup
2013The Red QueenMuseum of Old and New Art, TasmaniaGroup
2012The Cripplesoff-site exhibition at a Q-park 3-9, Old Burlington Street, LondonSolo
2012Toby ZieglerSimon Lee Gallery, LondonSolo
2012Curious Visitors: The Arts Council CollectionAston Hall, BirminghamGroup
2012Art Foundation Mallorca Collection. Special EditionCCA, Andratx, MallorcaGroup
2012GoldBelvedere, ViennaGroup
2012Sidetracks. Painting in the paramodern continuumStavanger Art Museum, StavangerGroup
2011Self-Similar seen somewhere else at the same timeGalerie De Expeditie, AmsterdamGroup
2010The Alienation of ObjectsZabludowicz Collection, LondonSolo
2010The Alienation of ObjectsThe New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall, West MidlandsSolo
2010The Alienation of ObjectsKiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, HelsinkiSolo
2010A Group Painting ShowPatrick Painter Inc., Santa MonicaGroup
2010Another Face: works from the Arts Council CollectionHatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne Group
2010Newspeak: British Art NowThe Saatchi Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Toby ZieglerGalerie Max Hetzler, BerlinSolo
2009The White ShowPM Gallery and House, LondonGroup
2009AccrochageGalerie Max Hetzler, BerlinGroup
2009Cui Prodest? New Galerie de France, ParisGroup
2009ReframingCCA, Andratx, MallorcaGroup
2009Natural Wonders: New Art from LondonBaibakov Art Projects, MoscowGroup
2008The LiberalsSimon Lee Gallery, LondonSolo
2008Danish Pastry - Rose of MohammedParkhaus im Malkastenpark, DüsseldorfSolo
2008The Subtle Power of Spiritual AbusePatrick Painter Inc, Los AngelesSolo
2008RU(technhe) TH(episteme)8?Hats Plus, LondonGroup
2008ParkhausKunsthalle Düsseldorf, DüsseldorfGroup
2008Hamster WheelMalmö Konsthall, MalmöGroup
2008Thuring and Ziegler10 Vyner Street, LondonGroup
2008Nature is a Workshop: selected from the Arts Council CollectionTurner Contemporary Project Space, Margate Group
2007Toby ZieglerLongside Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, WakefieldSolo
2007Hamster WheelCentre d'Art Santa Mònica, BarcelonaGroup
2007Hamster WheelLe Printemps de Septembre, ToulouseGroup
2007Hamster WheelTesa della Nuovissima, Arsenale, VeniceGroup
2007Size Matters: XXL - Recent Large-Scale PaintingsHudson Valley Centre for Contemporary Art, PeekskillGroup
2007SouffléKunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck Group
2007How to Improve the WorldGas Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, BirminghamGroup
2007Recent Abstraction, British Art Display 1500 – 2007Tate Britain, LondonGroup
2006Toby ZieglerSimon Lee Gallery, LondonSolo
2006Out of PlaceThe New Art Gallery, WallsallGroup
2006Everybody Knows This Is NowhereAsbæk, CopenhagenGroup
2006Archipenture: painters build architectureCamden Arts Centre, LondonGroup
2006Archipenture: artists build architectureLe Plateau - FRAC d’Ile de France, ParisGroup
2006SupernovaCity Art Gallery, PragueGroup
2005Enter DesireChisenhale Gallery, LondonSolo
2005The Future Lasts a Long TimeLe Consortium, DijonGroup
2005Ordering the OrdinaryTimothy Taylor Gallery, LondonGroup
2005SupernovaBunkier Sztuki Gallery Of Contemporary Art Poland, KrakowGroup
2005SupernovaKunstihoone, TallinnGroup
2005SupernovaCentre Of Contemporary Art, VilniusGroup
2004KingdomThe Market, GlasgowGroup
2004ContrapopVamiali's, AthensGroup
2004ExpanderRoyal Academy of Arts, LondonGroup
2004John Moores 23The Walker, LiverpoolGroup
2004The Future Lasts a Long TimeTal Esther Gallery, Tel Aviv Group
2004Collection 1Isabella Brancolini Arte Contemporanea, FlorenceGroup
2003Art Kliasma 2003Moscow Group
2003EAST internationalNorwich Gallery, NorwichGroup
2003CiviliaBluecoat Gallery, LiverpoolGroup
2003CreekCell project space, LondonGroup
2002Group ShowKing of Norway’s house, Piccadilly, LondonGroup
2002Hypnotising ChickensOne in the Other, LondonGroup
2001Sages, Scientists and MadmenOne in the Other, LondonGroup