Dirk Skreber


Dirk Skreber

Born 1961, Lübeck, Germany
Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany and New York

“Personally, I find that, as such, the catastrophe is nothing more than transformation in rapid motion, something beyond good and evil. It is a transformation which passes over into a new, permanent state of affairs, something which agglomerates, the energy at a breaking edge grows to an absolute maximum and then ruptures, accumulates, thrusting itself somewhere else and dramatically changes life.”3

Dirk Skreber engages with catastrophe, whether man-made or natural, siting himself at a comparative rather than judgemental position. Known for his series of paintings based on natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, he is more concerned with depicting the effects and their mediated perception rather than the telling of any one story. Often using non traditional methods as a counterpoint to his use of oil paint, he creates regularly patterned grounds from lengths of foam, insulation and parcel tape. This counterpoint acts as a clue to the mediation of images to which we are all subject.

In his Na(h)tanz series of which there are two in ATTITUDE, Untitled (Cowboy & Cowgirl) and Untitled (Concentric), 2004 the Natanz (adding a h translates this to ‘slow dance’) uranium enrichment factory south of the Iranian capital Tehran forms the background to the paintings. Taken from military satellite surveillance photographs, this image places the subject at a distance, giving an overview and only unintelligible detail. Above this floats the Cowboy and Cowgirl locked in the sequence of their dance the layer upon which they stand is composed of concentric or parallel lines. These lines break apart creating waves of power and colour, reminiscent of nuclear blast waves and the moiré effect found on television screens. In many ways this western icon is distant to the Iranian scene below, yet they both are subject to a system which seeks to link them Dirk Skreber presents this scenario as a potential event and point of catastrophe. Combining the two scenes together he shifts the focus from viewing to observing, the thick painted lines serving as the interference layer, the source of which is undeclared and potentially devastating. Despite the works political dimensions the focus falls on the influence this interference exerts.
“His reply is not that of a security expert but rather of an iconoclast who paints pictures....”4