When I get to Maureen Paley in Bethnal Green for the last day of Gert & Uwe Tobias' exhibition there is only me, and a couple with a bicycle wheel each, in the gallery. I have come to see the solo exhibition of the Transylvanian twins after seeing their woodcuts in the Saatchi Gallery's Gesamtkunstwerk exhibition.
The Tobias brothers work with a number of traditional media, almost abandoned to the folklore of artistic practice; woodcuts, typography and ceramics. But although they have honoured the luxury of all these techniques there is nothing more certain at Maureen Paley than their contemporaneity. The colours they print with are almost like nothing I have ever seen before, but remind me of the photocopy foil, Omnicrom. A typewriter is hammered at obsessively to make a typographic portrait which recalls, but is distinctly more eloquent than, a piece of computing code. Totemic ceramic creatures are enshrined in gallery corners or hanging from the ceiling.
The twins have described their work as having an 'opulence', indeed, even the dusky-dark portraits look as though they could be salvage from a water-damaged old stately home. But the opulence is really in the magnificent stretches of woodcut canvases; an opulence of labour, of colour (which does not belong to paint, but to the richer otherworldly texture of printing), of patterned gold leaf and of the fabulous creatures of imagination and myth.
The sense of play is important. I watch a video interview on Youtube where the cutting of the footage deliberately distorts our ability to distinguish between the identical pair. There is no sense of their individuation; one twin works on the left of the studio, the other on the right. Like conspiring children, the Tobias Twins delight in the labyrinthine twists and turns of their own game.
It may not be immediately obvious, but the Tobias twins have even manipulated the gallery space; painting the walls a rich, magnificent blue, with white lines which divide woodcuts and picture frames.