Tobias Gutmann — Universal Communication

Gutmann’s works bear clear features of his intercultural biography. Born in Papua New Guinea in 1987, he grew up trilingual and between different cultures. During his studies of visual communication in Bern, he explored the relationship between writing and image. After his civil service in Tanzania, he studied literary writing at the Konstfack University of Stockholm.

Tobias Gutmann’s search for a human lingua Franka manifests itself in the perfomance lets make language. It is not language, but images that are the origin of our thinking – this is the artist’s assumption. These ideas are very similar within cultures and can be used universally. For his performance, Gutmann converts letters into symbols, going beyond the boundaries of conventional typography.

“Life” (2019)

Due to their clarity almost comic-like, his works unfold their multi-layered level of meaning only at second glance. In Hands, it reduces the complexity of communication to the simple gestures of the hands – and increases their expressive spectrum many times over. Language is more than just spoken. We express a lot through facial expressions and gestures. Hands considers the exposed role of hands within body language. As a working and expression instrument, they have a special position within communication. Five fingers, which are repeatedly rearranged, devoured or downright deformed, arouse associations in the viewer. Peace, love or hatred – the complexity of human feelings is reduced here to the expression by finger members.

“Face-o-mat”, installation and performance at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

His performance with the Face-o-Mat also deals impressively with human communication. Since 2012 Tobias Gutmann has been tearing around the world with his face-o-mat and portraying people of different cultures. But a portrait here is more than the realistic reproduction of a face. In a picture, Gutmann abstracts the individual characteristics, characteristics and characteristics of his counterpart. In a society shaped by social media, it often seems important to put our face, our person, in the best light. People present themselves to the outside world with the qualities that they consider desirable. Gutmann, however, captures the face behind this mask in a portrait and gives it back as an abstract drawing.