Fabricated through a process of reduction, French Man World War I (Superheroe-Series) blurs the bounds between abstraction and representation. Carefully picking through strips of foam rubber, Skreber gnaws away at the surface to reveal an image of a soldier. He sets up a plane of conflict between the physical and the optical. The soft tangibility of the foam, interrupted with the chiselled sense of decay, is in stark contrast to the clean graphic form it contains. Skreber creates not a painting, but a divestment, in which beauty is conceived as erosive destruction.
The artist’s choice of subject riffs on his memory of the inhuman but fascinating spatial energy where he first encountered this imagery. “When I was young… the industrial area I lived in [Northern Germany] inspired a sculptural and mechanical outlook more than a painterly one. If I were to write a novel about this area I would call it ‘The Region’… At an early age I subconsciously perceived this industrial environment as sculptural”. Exploring the formal potential of the car and bending its natural anatomy, away from any predetermined functional sense, became a central preoccupation for the artist’s imagination.
Skreber obsessively painted cars wrapped around poles before moving onto the real thing. “Although I was satisfied with the paintings, I wanted to go closer to the material reality of my subject. I started thinking about a simulated crash, which was staged according to my sculptural vision… While making these works my concern was not at all about accidents but rather to use a massive and completely real transfer of energy as an opening door to a perspective on the flow of physical laws and metaphysical energies, loading and unloading, transforming and retransforming like batteries or spiritual bodies.”
Skreber's futurist building is as alien in its construction as its isolated setting. Stretching to an unlucky 13 floors, this glass skyscraper suggests a contemporary Tower of Babel. Encapsulating the trappings of opulence, Skreber's precarious structure sits in impending conflict against the encroaching forest, the surrounding territory neatly divided between cultivation and wilderness. The highly formalised building heightens disorientation, creating an Escher-like turmoil in its effete geometry. The glass casing suggests a terrarium of modern living; a foible society under the watchful gaze of a much more powerful presence.