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  • Tobias STERNBERG

    Tobias Sternberg is a multidisciplinary visual artist who for the last decade has been active in the alternative European art scene. His prolific output spans installation, sculpture, video, collage, performance and text pieces, all approached however from the perspectives of a sculptor and a storyteller. Breaking with traditional art market demands to stick within one easily recognizable product, Tobias Sternberg is part of an emerging generation of artists defining themselves by the core interests of their practices rather than the immediately recognizable visual surface. At the heart of all Tobias Sternberg's projects, lies an insatiable curiosity of life and art, pared with the desire to communicate this to an audience. Born 1973 in Stockholm, Tobias Sternberg grew up in a typical Swedish suburb in a slightly un-typical family of mixed academic and working class parents. Both books and theoretical discussions as well as the sense that you could make anything yourself if you just rolled up your shirt sleeves and ”got down to it” formed a constant presence in his upbringing, which can be clearly seen in the way he now approaches art. After studying history and philosophy at the University of Stockholm while supporting himself as a self taught carpenter and handy man, he felt himself more and more pulled towards the professional art world until he finally moved to London to study Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College in 2002. Graduating in 2005 with a First Degree Honours Ba, he had already started showing in artist run spaces and video festivals around the world. Staying four more years in the UK he attended residencies, took part in group shows and festivals and had his first three solo shows. Squaring the need to free time to make art with the high living costs of London proved untenuous though, and in 2009 he did what so many other artists have done and moved to Berlin. There he has found a productive working environment rich in time and inspiration and not so much in the grip of constant market pressures. The multifaceted and varied output of Tobias Sternberg all comes about as the result of a set of firmly held values, guiding both the art making itself and his reasons for making. To start with, all his artworks are handmade, from the collages that are carefully cut with a sharp blade and glued together before being retouched with a very thin brush, to the performative videos and short animations where he puts his own body through arduous processes that enables the effects he seeks. When working with sculpture he shuns the perfect surfaces of computer and factory made art but also the laissez faire sloppiness of DIY art making. By aiming to master whatever craft he is using for a specific piece or series, he is not trying to create perfection but rather to keep up the intense stream of intuitive information that flows between a material and an artist relying on his own hands and skills. By constantly continuing to learn he will always be opening up his imagination to new horizons and possibilities. Moreover Tobias Sternberg is always intensely interested in how his audience will read his art. He makes art very much to communicate, and tries to open the art up to those willing to engage. This sometimes takes the form of interactive pieces where the audience is encouraged to take up and touch sculptures or to climb over and crawl through installations. Even with pieces that are not meant to be physically handled he strives to make them more than a surface, more than just an image of something else. In several of his art projects he has actively engaged with what separates art from other objects, by questioning how art is sold, who can make art and why, and how it can be used. Furthermore he often interweaves his pieces with play, and with humour, believing these to be the best strategies to make people open up and become receptive to new ideas. As much as Tobias Sternberg passionately engages with the materials and techniques he uses, he also burns to tell stories, to share his own experience of the world with others. He believes that storytelling and mythology are still the glue that holds our society together, albeit in forms that constantly develop. There is usually a strand of very dark humour running through all the stories he tells, but they are not pessimistic, only ironic. Furthermore, his narratives often defy everyday reason and rely on a poetic understanding of the world to make sense. By suggesting often totally absurd alternatives to reality, he is hinting that our own world, with its institutions, habits and rules, would maybe seem just as absurd itself if it was viewed from the outside. For further information, please contact us