Friends and Rentals
Tibor de Nagy, NY
June 6 – July 16, 2019
The exhibition features Toebbe’s intricate works made with gouache, pencil and paper collage on wood panels. The images depict domestic interior settings pulled from the social media posts of the artist’s friends and family in Ohio and Kentucky, as well as her own photos with her husband and children. Toebbe archived these social media posts from her large extended family, including 42 cousins, amassing a trove of images of family gatherings, birthday parties, baby showers, and displays of Christmas decorations. She uses the background details revealed in these postings to construct portraits of the homes themselves. One work, Friend: Sandie, is a widow’s home in Kentucky that is all frill draperies, doilies and Christmas ornaments; another, Friend: Becky (pictured above) shows a cousin’s sprawling house in southern Ohio, furnished with large furniture and even larger TV screens tuned to sports channels, like a specimen of American suburban life preserved in amber.
Toebbe’s process is labor intensive. She employs freehand painting, flat geometry, geometric abstraction and intricate patterning; her paintings require numerous preparatory drawings and extensive planning. An important part of her work is the play with flatness and multiple points of view. Each work freely combines interior and outside viewpoints, views from above and cross-sections. Objects and figures appear unexpectedly at eye-level, like isolated artifacts. Toebbe’s working method draws inspiration from American folk art and Indian miniature painting. Folk art often embraces stylization and eschews perspective. Mughal painters utilized compartmentalization as a compositional device, as its origin was to inventory the king’s court. As Ryan Steadman notes in the catalogue essay, “In this way, Toebbe exerts the control she has — control over her picture plane — in order to better organize the lives of her family and friends via images of their homes and belongings.”