Born in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Germany in 1952, Michael Toenges now resides in Cologne and works in Leverkusen. After graduating the School for Design and Fine Arts in Krefeld, he studied as a guest student in Fritz Schwegler class at Art Academy in Düsseldorf from 1980 until 1981. He had exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherland and the United States. His works are in the collection of Kolumba Kunstmuseum in Colonge and Kunsthaus Aarau in Switzerland.
What is characteristic to the painting by Toenges is the diversity of colors and the huge amount of oil paint piled on the canvas/wooden board, due to that his painting looks like a relief sculpture. Toenges paints many layers of paint with touches of various colors, to create very rich surface. Because every new touch of paint is always added individually and separately, colors painted previously are not completely covered and therefore glimpse here and there. The arrangement of colors is carefully considered not only on the surface plan but also in the depth, constructed three-dimensionally.
He uses so many different colors at a time but his painting always shows beautiful harmony without any failure. This must owe to the ability and the experience of the artist who has been struggling with colors for long time. In his early days, Toenges created figurative paintings such as landscape and still life. One day he realized that his main concern is the arrangement, contrast and construction of colors, getting free from forms and images. Since then, he has been devoting himself to explore the color and the materiality of paint, which are the fundamental elements of painting.
As we introduced in his second show, Toenges habitually studies how Old Masters like Giotto, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Goya, etc. dealt colors, through making reproductions of their works. So in his works, there appears the traditional usage of colors in the history of European painting, from medieval period, and though the Renaissance, up to the German Expressionism to which he is familiar.
Toenges is of the scholarly type as such. He on the other hand usually makes no preparatory sketches in advance, starting to paint without any certain image or plan. He says "it happens often that a work which was going very well until yesterday suddenly ruins by one touch made today" and "maybe this painting is finished but it possible small change would happen . . ." He paints every touch very carefully but at the same time fearlessly. His brilliant works are brought into this world, both by his tireless effort of color research on Old Masters, and by his serious fight in every moment with accidental forms made from his arm strokes and with new relationships between colors developed unexpectedly.
On this occasion, exhibited are his small paintings on cardboard, which were rarely shown before. These paintings are possibly neglected as preparatory and fragmental works prior to his paintings on canvas or painting on board but very interesting as the evidence of his experiment and struggle with colors. In addition to new works prepared for this show, some selected works from 1995 will be on view. Please come to take a look of these charming works.
From 17:00 to 19:00 on Saturday, September 28th, we will have a reception for the artist. Please come to join us !