Tell us a little about yourself. As is known, your artistic career began with graffiti. Why did you move from the street to the studio and gallery spaces? Was it a necessity or a big conscious desire?
I was born in Halle in 1977 and studied at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle. I’ve been living and working in Berlin since 2008.
In the mid-nineties, I began to paint walls in the city and to occupy myself with surfaces, urbanity, and architecture. My enthusiasm for this work still guides me.
I prefer to paint on pristine walls in the open air, walls that stand on their own and radiate something special. Walls can differ in their surface texture, color and format. I’m drawn to these places. I see walls as the skin of architecture. They separate the public from the private. They form houses and create borders. For me, walls exist to be painted on.
Canvases are just as essential to my work. But the fact of the matter is, I work differently on canvas than I do on walls. They’re two different forms of media. Canvases are softer, walls are hard.
Please tell us about KLUB7. This project is still relevant or not?
How are things going?
KLUB7 is an artists group we formed in 1998. It’s a collaboration between six artists — Dani Daphne, Mike Okay, Diskorobot, Otto Baum, Lowskii and myself. For many years we’ve been launching international projects and exhibitions from Berlin. We paint on walls, facades, in rooms, and on canvases. In recent years we’ve been artistically active in New York, Tel Aviv, Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam.
At the heart of our group work is the process of painting together. This is much more important for us than the outcome. It’s just so much fun to paint with my friends while we talk to each other, especially when we’re painting. We can also work on much larger projects as a group because we have more power together.
After my family, KLUB7 is one of the most important things in my life. You can find us at www.klub7.de or on Instagram at @klub7_artistcollective.
How would you describe your art briefly? What is the difference between street and studio work on paintings?
My painting is a form of abstract expression. The starting point for my work is often a sketch or a photograph depicting an everyday situation or discovery. In my painted work, I try to translate that into some sort of a feeling, or a detached poetic visibility. I like to deal with themes like transience, urbanity, and signs in contemporary art. My work summarizes and expands on the change processes taking place in urban spaces. Levels can feel like a time- lapse of street life. My painting ultimately focuses on the composition in a piece. Above all, my idea of painting should be fun, it should surprise, and provoke reflection. I don’t like to simply rest on techniques and effects.
Tell us about your studio? How long have you been working there? Describe your usual working day.
The studio is a place for me to do and create things. My workday always looks different, though. There are days where I spend the entire day on my computer, planning and communicating. And then there are days where I just paint. I can’t paint every day. I need breaks to gather energy.
I like to start several canvases at once while I listen to music and think about what I’m doing. I often start painting in a very quick and impulsive way. The closer I get to the end of the painting, the more I begin to do things intentionally. If I don’t like a piece, I mercilessly paint over it. It’s a great feeling to sit in front of a finished canvas. That satisfaction really makes me happy.
What inspires you best of all?
I’m inspired by many everyday things. I love to walk through the streets and discovery funny and bizarre situations, drawings, architecture, people. Of course, other artists inspire me, especially exhibitions. I like to travel to other cities. I just like to discover and observe things.
Another source of inspiration definitely is the internet. Platforms like Instagram, Tumblr or certain blogs allow me to connect with other artists, friends, photographers, and thinkers.
This mega-input is, of course, a source of influence that shouldn’t be underestimated. Sometimes I find it hard to concentrate on what I really want.
I often get my best ideas right after waking up, when I start thinking.
What are your plans for this year? Have you already planned any exhibitions?
2018 is an exciting year! For starters, I became the father of a charming daughter, and I have many planned exhibitions, mostly in Berlin.
The group exhibition DIRTY VOYAGE, which I curated, will be opening on May 4th. It will include works by Theresa Volpp, Stephen Smith, Nartur Kunstgruppe, Johannes Mundinger, Clement Mancini, Adrien Ladmiral, Jenny Brosinski, David von Bahr and Christian August.
And then at the end of May, we’re showing a “20 Years of KLUB7” exhibit in Berlin. Then in June, there’s a huge exhibition called COMING OFF THE WALL, where I’ll be presenting a scholarship with Mike Okay and Ingo Albrecht. I also have a solo exhibition in the works. And this is all just in the next few months.
Your thoughts that you want to share with our readers.
In my painting, I like to work with different shades of gray between black and white. For me, it’s the expression of a certain complexity. I think it’s important to see the world in all its complexity. It can be very dangerous to have simple solutions that flatten reality. So I try to look at conflicts from different perspectives.