Somewhere in an underground car park, 14 floors below the streets of West London, lurks Toby Ziegler's newest show, 'The Cripples'. Based on Renaissance artist Bruegel's paintings, Ziegler has combined both the 3D objects of his work alongside Bruegel's 2D figures to ominous, brooding effect.
Tell us a little bit more about the initial ideas behind your new exhibition.
These sculptures began with a Bruegel painting titled The Cripples. I started to re-imagine the figures in the painting on a computer using 3-D modelling software. As they evolved, a series of other associations emerged. The work also started to refer to war porn from Iran and Afghanistan that I stumbled across on the internet.
I'm interested in objects that have history and meaning foisted on them: the lumps of stone that we call classical sculpture or palaeolithic carving. I like the way these things are dug up, and stories are attached to them. Sometimes it feels as though the objects themselves contain these memories, but then it seems the stories exist elsewhere: in our minds, in books and on the internet. Looking at an artefact in a museum it is very easy to have a prescribed, 'knowledge-based' relationship with it , but my best experiences with art have been when it bewilders, annoys or surprises me.
How did you decide on the space in where you were going to display the body of work?
Pretty early on I knew I wanted this project to happen in an underground space. I spent a lot of time on subterraneabritannica.com which is an encyclopedia of bunkers, tunnels and caverns, but decided I wanted a space that was still in use and was more mundane. I embarked on a tour of London's underground car-parks and probably visited 50 car parks last year. The acoustics in the space were very important. At one point I was considering making a sound piece, a subliminal drone, as part of the installation, but having spent some time down there realised that the space already provides it: your footsteps reverberate, the tube trains rumble, cars approach from the upper floors.
How challenging was it to combine both the 21st Century setting alongside the renaissance elements of your work?
The way I imagined these works was in such a space. The work looks backwards but couldn't have been made before now. I suppose The National Gallery is also a 21st century setting.
How is 'The Cripples' differ from your previous exhibitions?
When I started showing it was working collaboratively with a friend of mine called Christopher Landoni who now, tragically , is dead. We sought out an empty building and would persuade the owner to lend it to us in return for a piece of work. The installation would be conceived specifically for the space. It's been a real pleasure to work in this way again.
What else are you working on throughout the remainder of the year?
I'm working on a show that zooms in on details of still life paintings, which will open at Max Hetzler Gallery in April 2013.
The Cripples runs until 20 October at Q-PARK, 3-9 Old Burlington Street, W1S 3AF.
Words: Shane Hawkins