Born in 1977, Tobias Kroeger lives and works in his hometown of Bremen (Germany). Socialized by graffiti in the 90s, he has worked as a graphic designer for a long time. During this time he has always done art and graffiti on the side. In 2010 he decided to give up the profession of graphic designer and devote himself one hundred percent to painting as an independent artist.
How did you get into art?
I was socialized by graffiti in the early 90s. I started spraying graffiti in 1992 and began to deal with it intensively. I was deep into the scene at that time and got to know my best friends there, but also the many rules of the scene. At the same time, I was active in the Bremen squatter scene relatively early on, where there were very few rules and the DIY idea was extremely present, which ultimately led to a conflict in my view of graffiti. A scene had imposed a set of rules on itself that you weren't allowed to break, and this fact led me away from classic graffiti towards experimental positions. Around 2005 I became more interested in Horst Janssen than in a Loomit or a CanTwo and from then on I would say I made art.
How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?
In an art historical context, I would say: Neo-Expressionism, COBRA under the influence of graffiti and all mixed together to create something new. In the last 10 years, I have been very erratic in my search for a new position; there have been a lot of different attempts and big breaks that have finally led me to this visual language. It was always important to me to have a strong position of my own and, above all, to add something new to the field of painting.
How do you go about developing your work?
With my work I am looking for this tension of free, fast drawings. I am very interested in transferring this power to large formats. My working process looks like this: I draw a lot, every day, many sketches that are made on the fly. Often these drawings are created under stressful conditions, when the children are scurrying around me, the postman rings the doorbell or my wife is on the phone next to me. But I also seek this restlessness in order not to work on the sketches with too much focus, because then the tension is lost. These sketches then form the basis for further works, the foundation for the bigger formats, so to speak.
Who or what influences you?
I am definitely interested in the Neo-Expressionists, such as Wool, Baselitz, Kirkeby, etc. I still like to look at them, but also at contemporaries, especially artists from the so-called Post-Graffiti, who have very exciting positions at the moment. I observe these artists closely and often admire them for their work, and somehow I always feel a little proud to belong to this period in art.
Make us curious. What is planned next?
At the moment I'm going through my archive and compiling my drawings, sorting and probing and hopefully soon I'll be able to make a book out of these sketches. I'm still looking for a publisher, but if everything works out, it will hopefully come out in 2023.