Tilo Baumgärtel realises his ideas with the rationality of a scene-painter, always considering the viewer’s perspection. He makes his compositional decisions in an astonishingly prosaic and rational fashion. Art history´s box of tricks, collected from the Renaissance to our present day, provides the tools for him. First, space is defined on the canvas. Whether the painting will confront the viewer with the vastness of a landscape as in the early pieces, or irritate with its abundance of details as in the more recent works, Baumgärtel´s scenes are always located somewhere between dream and reality. The interlocking of different narrative perspectives, the contrast between immaterial colours and apparently tangible materiality or the dramatisation of a space through extreme light/dark contrast – they just represent a fraction of the tools in his repertoire used for breaking up the logic of the pictorial space and shaking the alleged coherence of a situation.
In between the different levels of reality of his works, the artist dares us to explore a world both strange and familiar, foreboding and mysterious. Baumgärtel´s mastery of subliminal tensions and subtle distortions has a number of sources. The superficial traces of narrative in the artist´s works seem to be without direction. Rather, they lead the viewer onto the precarious terrain of associative and analytically dismembered narrative fragments. Dream and reality cross each other in a labyrinth of apparently hidden meanings, although here, as so often in Baumgärtel´s works, there is but a thin line between comedy and drama.