O n  B i g  D r a w i n g s

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     When did you start drawing? Were you naturally attracted to this medium, or is this a more recent concern and engagement?

I started when I was a small child and, with some breaks, I continued ever since. So yes, I guess I was naturally attracted to the medium. But I guess all children are. But then its a question of sticking to it. Also, there are plenty of artists in my family, so growing up with their pictures on our walls did help here.

     What do you make of the traditional idea of 'mastery', which despite a lot of innovation, continues to have an ongoing association with drawing?

I guess us humans tend to over-do anything we do. So I think it was the same with the traditional notion of having to learn how to draw first before you can draw. This notion made the whole art/technic often complicated or it took the fun out of it and the spontaneity. Technic became more important then content. But wanting to change this become more and more important, which of course was a good thing to happen. But today it seems like there are a lot of draughsman/woman who come out of school not knowing anything about technic but only about content- again it seems we are overdoing it.

For me you have to find a good balance (like with almost everything in life), not letting yourself be taken over by either, which I am still struggling with and probably always will. But this might actually be the key to becoming a good draughtsman or to be able to express what you really want to say with your work.

 What is a good drawing? What is a bad drawing?

I have no idea. I guess it always depends on the viewers taste. There isn´t a universal canon.

But then I guess one can say technically this or that is objectively a good drawing cause it resembles a certain person or the juxtaposition of a figure is rendered correctly etc.

But if this is the case we might not talk about drawings as a form of art (or are we?) but of drawing something with the aim of showing it realistically (like with the traditional scientific drawings(illustrations of animals/insects).

The- very old- question here would be “what is art” or “when does, in this case, a drawing becomes art?”

I guess we are actually all artists in one way or another. But some of us obviously have more talent.

So if this is true you have your answer to what a bad drawing might be....

 How important is a notion of 'process' in your drawing practice?

Very important. Usually I have one object/subject/thing/person/whatever in mind I want to draw and then, while drawing it, the next (idea) comes to mind. And so on. The only thing which is usually quite clear before I start is the mood or atmosphere I want to show or express with the drawing.

       The main theme of our project is 'OnBigDrawings'. What do you make of big drawings / or small drawings, and why does it matter?

For some time now I have been drawing digitally on an i-Pad. So the “original” drawing is either the electronic rendering of the drawing on a screen or its projection on a wall or the print-out of it. The reason why I started drawing digitally was cause while working on a new exhibition which was made out of these huge (analogue) 4 x 6 meters charcoal on canvas drawings I developed a rush on my entire body (the charcoal, which I use a lot of, went through all my cloths on to my skin making me look like a coal miner at the end of another working day in my studio). So switching to digital drawing made my rush go away

but it made me work on the rather small screen of my tablet. Which means I am actually drawing on a more or less A4 sized screen while trying to keep in mind how the image might look like printed out on a huge/big sized paper. Its a totally different process and actually quite mind bending. Being able to zoom-in onto every detail of my drawing (and thus enlarging it/making it bigger) gives the whole thing another dimension which does no exist drawing analogue.

Having said all this I think the reason why I draw big is because, with my drawings I am aiming to create a certain atmosphere, in an cinematic way, almost like a backdrop of some (un-) written story. The viewer of my drawings become part of this scenery, almost like an immersive experience, like actors in a film. At the end of the day I am actually also a filmmaker, so I am always thinking in a narrative kind of way about my work and Projects.

       What kind of relationship do you want your work to have with its audience?

As already mentioned above I´d like them to be part of it. I also always trying to tell a story with my drawings, which has to do with the place/location of where the exhibition takes place. Very often the history of the place, building and/or its location inspire me to the story I want to tell with my drawings.

   What do you make of small, intimate drawings, sketchbook pages, beermat sketches, and scribbles. Are these sheets more 'personal' or can they be art?

In rare and fortunate occasions they can be art, or worth showing to other people. But in an exhibition context, I believe we very often tend to over value everything done by an artists (especially with the famous ones), giving it almost an iconic or holy significants.

       The current student generation is hugely influenced by graffiti and Manga culture, as well as a desire to represent things in more classical ways. How do you relate to this trend?

In general I think it´s good. I am more of a figurative guy aa well and since early childhood, heavily influenced by comics and other pop culture medias so I can relate to it a lot.

       How would you define the fundamental differences between painting and drawing? (A quote: 'A drawing is a painting made with less paint', ... Henry Matisse)

I am going with matisse here. Also when you work with charcoal, either digital or analogue one, you use your hands/fingers a lot, which gives you that “liquidy” greasy feeling while working, which is, I guess, usually associated more with “painting”.

In 2010/2011 MOMA in New York staged its biggest drawing exhibition of the 20th century, and it was called 'On Line'. Do you think drawing is necessarily just about 'lines'?

No, not necessarily. I for instance use plains and space a lot to define content.

       Asian drawings are known to celebrate a notion of 'emptiness'. Do you seek 'emptiness' in your work?

Absolutely, I´d even say my work needs emptiness, without it I wouldn't know what to draw. This is why I usually cant draw on a white sheet of paper. For me everything is “on there” already, which makes sense since the “colour” white is, physical speaking, the combination of all colours. So I “blacken out” the whole paper before I start drawing my lines and plains which develop into objects, people etc and thus I bring light into the darkness (which, although it might sound quite dramatic, is usually my answer to people who find my drawings to “dark”).

       Traditional drawing is a more intimate and 'personal' artform, yet a lot of contemporary art practice seeks a more social and participatory dimension. How is this reflected in your projects and drawings?

Well, I have no idea really. But I think either way, if drawing (or any form of art) becomes too conscious about or of itself, of what and why its doing or aiming for something or wants to “be” something it doesn't really work anymore. If you call yourself e.g. “a political” or “a social” or “a personal” artist you are kind of limiting yourself to a certain theme or subject. I think an artists work should be about reality, how he/she conceives reality and maybe to show and make other people aware of certain things within “our” reality. These things can be bad or good, political, personal or social, beautiful, scary or...boring.

       Drawing is often treated as a very technical medium in art education (especially in US art schools). Do you think there could be other ways to teach drawing?

Well, mind you but my German drawing teacher was sooo technical...unbearable technical!

Having said this doesn't mean I am against learning technic. But, like with most things there are different approaches to teach drawing technics and some of them can be actually quite fun.

Throughout my years as an art/drawing teacher I had students who wanted me to teach them technics and others didn't. So whenever this was possible within the constrains of the course I tried to teach them individually

And coming back to my german teacher: his technical approach did apparently for some at least made sense and they learned a lot of out it and for some it didn´t and they might have been better off learning something or focusing on something else. But in any case for anyone in the class it would have been better if he would have been a better teacher.

So I think the problem here is more the standardization of how to teach art in art schools and how good or bad the teaching/the teachers are...

        One question foremost on my mind, was: how do the artists respond to the Covid-19 crisis, and do you think the new situation has an impact on your creative practice, your exhibitions and projects, and the nature of work being affected by working from home for extended periods of time? Perhaps artists start making smaller scale, more intimate works, made from simpler and easily accessible materials ?

Of course it does. Since the crises started I feel totally lost when it comes to new ideas and projects. I think the problem here is that my work very often seems to or tends to be about scenarios like the one we are all experiencing right now. My work very often is dystopian, seemingly playing in some kind of a or our future or a parallel reality. But now the present seems to have out-runned if not outdated the future, so very often it feels the Covid crises put me in a work crises cause there is nothing left for me to draw.

Key aspects

Post-Apocalyptic Romanticism (or Love)

The idea to this term came up a couple of years ago while hanging out with a friend at this shut down nuclear power plant nearby Frankfurt. The whole set-up of the scenery, the brutalist architecture of the plant situated in the most beautiful natural environment, couldn't express in a better way what´s it like to be living in this bizarre, beautiful and fucked-up world of today. A reality, I am trying to render in my work.

Shortly before this trip I developed a new drawing-technic which, I think, fits well into the whole idea of PAR(L) (Post-Apocalyptic Romanticism (or Love)): before I start drawing I always blacken out the white sheet of paper with charcoal. Once all the “whiteness” (the light) has gone my mind is sufficiently empty to come up with forms and objects which I then erase out of the blackness and thus bring light into the darkness. 

Since I am drawing like this digitally, the result not only is a drawing but also a film of the process/development of the drawing (the drawing-app I am working with records every drawing move/step I make on the screen). Since I am also a filmmaker this lets me combine the two things in a rather unusual but very enjoyable kind of way.

I guess one of the reason why I tend to print out the drawings big and hang them up on huge walls is cause I like to think of them as backdrops in or of a film or in like a theater play. Often I set up performances throughout the exhibition to fill my work with a moving and physical narrative. Of course, also the visitors become involuntary actors of this narrative. Within this context I am always trying to let the location of where the exhibition takes place, its history and architecture, be part of the story of my work.

I guess with my work I am also trying to question or experiment with the medias film and drawing.

With Covid19 hitting into the present reality the term PAR(L) and what it stands for gets an unexpected update which makes the originally partly ironic partly serious meaning of it more real then ever: this slow burning feeling of living in a world which is invisibly killing us or has already exceeded the point of no return.

I dont really know yet what that means for my work...