Matthias Garff’s stamp prints are painting created with a different medium. Although similar to relief printing, stamp printing is not actually a printing process for reproduction purposes, but involves manual application of paint to a medium using shapes instead of brushes. A little wooden box is what inspired these works. Discovered at a flea market, it measures 26 x 19 x 10 cm, with practical internal compartments. The box contains a drawer for cut watercolour paper, holders for 5 pots of coloured shellac ink, retainers for some accessories and a date stamp.

The artist has been carrying this box around for some time as a toolbox, and he uses it to document his everyday life in images. The sheets are 10 x 20 cm and the stamped date is the title of the work. However, these notes from the ›walking workshop‹ are not conceived as personal diary entries, but abstractly and emotionally showcase the artist’s study of character and mode, both individuals and groups, and the expression of relationship and singularity.

The serial motifs recur in a strictly specific pattern. There are five towers on each sheet, perhaps five people or simplified creatures, all combinations of the same strictly geometrical basic shapes: square, triangle, rectangle, trapezoid, and all built from five parts: a foot or pedestal, a three-part body and a head, dome or crown—depending on how you interpret the figures. They stand in a row and do not touch one another. However, the choice of shape and colour, the indication of motion and the varying combination of the elements, their physical centre of gravity and fragility reveal hidden influences and emphasise the differences.

The self-chosen, formal restriction of this series of works actually proves extremely flexible in detail. Addition and variation as the creative principle are reminiscent of the blueprint for human life: a genetic code, a matrix and module, and finally of the feasibility principle—almost a facile concept of creation, almost a Promethean act, almost a profession to Homo Faber.
—By Tina Simon /Translated by Brendan Bleheen
Josef Filipp Galerie, Leipzig
Dr. phil. Tina Simon
Author and publicist, Leipzig


The figure cosmos of Matthias Garff ranges from flying bumblebees to depictions of birds and larger-than-life primates to an extinct primordial form of man, the homo erectus. His interest in natural processes and our animal neighbours began in childhood and now determines his artistic work.

Garff works on a menagerie of a particular kind, reflecting the relationship between humans and animals and nature in general. With this, he follows deeply rooted paths. The animal as a motif of art has been present in all epochs since the earliest expressions of images, such as the Stone Age caves of Altamira and Lascaux. The relationship between humans and animals is determined by attributions and projections. We look at animals not only because of their beauty, cuteness or ugliness. We observe them without being able to see through them and turn them into images or mirrors of ourselves. Matthias Garff explores these phenomena. When he combines animal behaviour with different characters and clarifies them in terms of materiality and design, or forms his figures into groups that resemble social structures, his works remind us of fables. Some of his sculptures become mixed creatures between animal and human, such as the towering chimpanzee from the series The Old World Apes, which resembles a chimpanzee shell rather than the lifelike reproduction of the animal. Garff is not interested in a realistic picture at all. Roughly screwed together, glued or nailed, he lets his creatures emerge from found material. In doing so, he makes the creation process itself comprehensible and consciously uses the respective material aesthetics as means of design. In his video works such as The Argentine Garden, he demonstrates how irreconcilable art and nature ultimately remain. Here he confronts the real animals directly with his creations and encounters above all ignorance and disinterest of the animals in their artificial images. In contrast to us, the animal does not need neither man nor art.
Catalogue text by Susanne Greinke for
Matthias Garff „Homo erectus“
Galerie Brüderstraße, Görlitz, 2014