Thanks so much for letting us into the secrets behind your elaborate illustrations. To give our readers a better idea of your approach, could you briefly explain your artistic aesthetic? What is it that makes your art so special?
In a way, my work is like science: I try to make things visible that used to be invisible. It is all about rethinking situations and concepts while illustrating them with my own hands. My art not only manifests in the results, but also in the actual process of creation.
The results tend to be rather abstract. Do you know why that is? Do you have an innate urge to disrupt what is stable and concrete?
I started out as a photographer. At one point, I no longer just wanted to take a picture, but became more interested in recording the reason and the influencing factors behind it. Out of this writing process I developed my very own, novel imaginary realm. I started to create these graphic illustrations out of all kind of algorithms. They are like a board game that reveals the structure of reality.
A board game?
Board games are always somewhat abstract by nature. Chess, for example, distils the realities of war. My work is very much about disassembling and reconstructing existing human concepts. I rely on infinite repetitions until I alight on the right expression – or until I decide to focus on something else. At the same time, everything I examine in my drawings is somewhat autobiographical.
According to a previous interview, you think that all that surrounds us in our urban existence is a mere construct? Care to explain?
Urbanity is the result of human labor and mental processes. Behind all of the networks and infrastructures we use and see are human thoughts. If you look at buildings, streets, places, parks, or canals, none of these are natural in the sense that everything was shaped and influenced by the humans that live here.
Some of your works are reminiscent of city maps, created from words and lines? What do you want the viewer to see and perceive in your drawings?
Actually, your subjective reception is part of my artistic approach. What you perceive as a city map is rather a psychological arena of possibilities. This is the source of my work’s topography. Just like a real city, every artwork of mine coexists with many possible interpretations. You could see the city in it, all of its residents, or maybe just yourself. The interpretation is up to you.
Let’s move on to the relationship between art and cities. What are the key governing aspects of this interplay?
I consciously chose Berlin as my creative base. I moved here in 1998 because of the many unused plots and spaces nestling between regular buildings. It is rare to find a metropolis that still offers so many spatial opportunities. Even if this is an ephemeral phase, it allows creativity to roam and go wild in these empty spaces, taking on a myriad of different shapes, guises, and activities.
What intrigues you about open space?
I try to imagine what it could be, i. e. once again revealing the invisible through my thoughts. What differences specific uses could make to the city’s urban landscape and the people who live here – who are really special.
What do you mean by special? Are Berliners different from other urbanites?
Of course! Berlin is full of extraordinary characters. Here, you are never alone with your ideas; there is always a partner in crime for anything you could imagine. The city is permeated by a strong spirit of constant creation, one that really inspires me. And I love its international flair. The whole world seems to have come to Berlin.
Do you think art could play an important role in improving our cities?
Art is a haven for all kinds of extraordinary outlets and a development engine. Art, and by art I mean all kinds of artistic expressions including music, dance, theater, and many others, denotes the peak of a civilization’s consciousness.
This makes artists paragons of change and progress; by opening up new future perspectives, they can push a city in the right direction. Yet without enough space and funding for the arts, nothing new will emerge. That is why art is so important – not only in terms of our culture, but also for the future of human civilization.
I heard you have also been playing the cello since early childhood? Sounds like you have enjoyed a very artistic upbringing …
Yes, all of my family are into music and art. My brother is a stage designer and my sister is a musician. Sometimes, I invite them over to my studio for creative sessions. They bring friends and we all make music or art together – or simply discuss issues that concern us. Once again, this is what makes Berlin such a great city for artists.
So, where can we actually see some of your work in the near future? Do you have any other projects of interest in the pipeline?
I have a couple of solo shows coming up in Rome, Munich, Hamburg, Milan, and New York. For dates and venues, please check my website. I also just started my first serious teaching job at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich as a professor for painting and drawing several art academies and I am currently working on a project with architecture students in Vienna that tries to pinpoint new ways of exploring the city through conceptual drawing.
Thanks so much for your time and all the best for your upcoming exhibitions!
Interview: Frank R. Schröder
Header image: .marqs/ photocase.com