Tomma Abts was born in Kiel, Germany in 1967. She attended Hochschule der Künste, Berlin, Germany between 1989 and 1995 and is currently living and working in London.
Abts paintings develop slowly over time. She begins with no preconceived ideas of how the finished article will look, allowing a more intuitive journey, with each picture slowly unfolding itself through the layering and overlaying of both oil and acrylic paint. Colour and shapes are built up instinctively and, as a result, lines of former shapes are still visible under the layers of paint; evidence of how it has evolved. Abts technique is to paint around the colour already laid, which often means that the initial first layer of colour is still visible once the painting is complete. Abts says of her paintings that they are objects but also images, an illusion yet real. The completed painting suddenly realises itself to the artist once the colour, layers of paint and geometric shapes come alive. She then names her works, carefully and deliberately, selecting from a dictionary of first names. To further add to the systematic approach of her painting each canvas is the standard format of 48 x 38 cm and always portrait in orientation.
Veeke (2005) is as jagged a painting as its spiky name suggests. From a base colour of murky green grey emerge what appear like flat knives or spears, layered on top of one another, and streaking across the canvas from right to left like a dirty neon chevron. They seem to cast softer dove-grey shadows as they pass, creating intricate, impossible perspectives. Muted and sombre in timbre, the complex layering of space folds over and over onto itself, creating a kind of self-sufficient vortex that can almost be likened to a pool.
Tomma Abts was awarded the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award in 2004, and won the Turner Prize in 2006, after being selected for exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland and Greengrassi, in south-east London. Other recent solo exhibitions include Galerie Giti Nourbaksch, Germany, 2009; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2008; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne 2006.
Made in Britain Contemporary Art from the British Council Collection 1980-2010,China Federation of Literary and Art Circles Publishing Corporation 2010. ISBN 978-7-5059-7014-4.