b. 1984, Cologne, DE
Lives and works in Cologne, DE
Thomas Wachholz’s paintings are dense visual nets of formal traces and personal memories structured through opaque color fields, iconic symbols like stars or clouds, and grids contoured by geometric outlines. Exploring the hidden dimensions of everyday materials, Wachholz condenses the objects which inspire his works to a restricted number of color and shapes.
Through the works, Wachholz explores how mundane objects such as matchbooks and postcards can become fraught with personal memory and material history. For years, the works have appropriated the formal layouts and functions of matchboxes and matchbooks. Gathered in places like hotels, restaurants, gas stations, cinemas, clubs, and company lobbies, the colorfully designed boxes are now far less commonplace than they once were. Like postcards, which have now been largely supplanted by photos taken on our cell phones, matchboxes are charged with a potent nostalgia—both a nostalgia for the specific time and place one might have collected the object; and a nostalgia for the quickly fading era in which these souvenirs were more widespread.
Many of Wachholz’s works include a striking surface, produced through the artist’s application of red phosphorus. This element sometimes covers the entire surface of a painting, and other times is abstracted as suns, radiating vertical lines, or as the contours of larger shapes. The phosphorus grid, which almost disappears between the composition of the paintings and its geometric lines, symbolizes the potential for viewers to truly “activate” the paintings through their personal associations and memories.
Thomas Wachholz (b. 1984, Cologne, DE; lives and works in Cologne, DE) studied under Katharina Grosse and Marcel Odenbach at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions and galleries worldwide, such as Nymphius Projekte, Berlin; Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles; Raebervon Stenglin, Zurich and An der Schanz 1A, Cologne.