BORN IN 1985 FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA. HE NOW LIVES AND WORKS IN BERLIN, GERMANY.
BORN IN 1985 FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA. HE NOW LIVES AND WORKS IN BERLIN, GERMANY.
How does Vienna look like? I’ve never been to Vienna, so i googled Vienna and it looks like a beautiful city.
When people travel to Vienna the first time, they say that it is very beautiful. And indeed, it is. Luckily, the city wasn't very much destroyed during the Second World War, therefore you can enjoy the mostly baroque atmosphere with lots of wonderful old coffee houses, which became very popular in the begin of the 20th century and are nowadays one of the Unesco world heritages. The facts that the city is well preserved and that around 25,000 people move to Vienna every year, let space successively turn into a luxury good. Unfortunately, there are no big public open spaces in the urban environment, where you can gaze over or sometimes even see the sky, although some parks like Stadtpark or Volksgarten are great to hang out. My favorite place is the Belvedere, a former baroque castle, which houses an enormous art collection. You can feel like Sissi if you want.
What do Austrians eat?
The food is international, but Austria is mostly famous for Schnitzel, Palatschinken (sort of crêpe), Kaiserschmarrn, Sacher cake, apple strudel etc.
Is it difficult to become an artist in Vienna?
It is not difficult, as long as you’re not born into a low class or immigrant family. Austrians are generally wealthy and well educated and get mostly support by their parents, when they decide to start studying art. Art is highly ranked in Austrians society. There are also no tuition fees. Keeping the status of an artist is more difficult. The rents are increasing and it is very hard to find a studio.
Many young artists need to maintain one or two day jobs, to sustain their life. And because of the crisis and strong nepotism, it became tougher to get a good day job. The gallery scene is manageable and the established ones are counting on artists, who already made it. For young artists is it almost impossible to get a gallery, even though there is a huge Off Scene. This is probably one of the reasons why I moved to Berlin last month.
Does the government support the art culture in Austria?
Yes. It spends billions. I don’t know any other country, in which you can get a grant or stipend from the government so easily. (But they have also strong preferences: If you’re female, Austrian and doing some kind of installations with e.g. sound, you are going to get anything)
How and when did you start making paintings?
In 2008. At that time, I was working as an assistant director in a theater and it became apparent that I was more interested in rather visual phenomenons than in text-based narration. I decided to try art university, and it worked out. I was never that kind of guy, who was painting and drawing from the childhood on. For a long time, I believed that this was a disadvantage and this silly conviction helped me to push myself and my work for a greater benefit.
A lot of your paintings relate to the theme of politics, why is that?
There are three category groups, which are supposedly important for my work: Politics, Pop and the Private. When I make art, I reflect what I read, see, consume, feel etc. My daily life is filled with articles about international politics and terrorism in particular, TV shows, movies, pop music videos on the internet and my personal encounters with a lot of things and people in real life. There is a loosely connection between these elements and I try to find out which interfaces might be relevant. For instance, the painting reverse cover up-tactics discusses my beloved childhood memories of the Walt Disney character Donald Duck, which was used as Anti-Nazi propaganda in 1943. Did you know, that Asma al-Assad, the wife of the Syrian president, was glorified as A Rose in the Desert in a long article published by the Vogue in 2011, right before the civil war started and the situation for millions of Syrian citizens escalated? Nowadays, in front of you, Britney Spears and Bashar al-Assad are only one tab away. The synchronicity of global proceedings followed by and filtered through us as individuals is capturing. The so-called last prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was released by Taliban last year and it was speculated, he might have sympathized with the terror organization and his mindset was unclear. It resembles very much the character of Brody from Showtimes’ TV show Homeland, which - and this is very interesting - told this story before the real event occurred. Fiction gets closer to reality and vice versa. They might have even changed their position and fiction became already more real and significant than reality: Did terrorism changed into a cultural event? In my opinion, artist have the obligation to negotiate issues, which happen on a daily basis and are crucial for our society. Meaning gets created every day. Artists shift meaning in order to make disbalances visible.
What I like about your work is that there’s some kind of humor in them, are you a funny guy in real life?
Yes, I am and it took me a while to cultivate and appreciate it. People should get taught in humor. It is the only thing, which keeps us from becoming a moral club or dictator.
Do you like your government?
It could do a better job, especially with some issues concerning the handling of the finance crisis, which started affecting Austria significantly from last year on. They should foster immigration topics as well. The right wing party is very big and we are all afraid that they are going to get more power in the next elections, probably enough votes to govern the country. They mobilize against immigrants, which are essential for Austrians (especially Viennese) culture and society. - But compared to most of the countries in the world, our government is still doing okay.
Why do you tend to make small paintings?
Beside the facts, that they are cheaper and easier to transport, I would say, I need to keep the overview of the painting while working on it. When it comes to large scale paintings, you have to step back once in a while, which disaffects me. I don’t know why. This might change anytime soon.
Do you have a day job?
I am looking for one. If you hear anything, let me know.
Are you broke?
Currently not, but I was a few times in the near past.
What’s your favorite colour?
When I think of colors, the combination becomes crucial. I love the color Grey as an ‘adjusting color‘, for elaborating a specific color or sometimes, for finding a good balance between different colors.
Let’s talk about these two paintings - Two Shots and Two Shots II. What’s the idea behind them? I like the hands gesture.
They are based on a drawing I have made two years ago. I found it again last fall while I was watching Youtube videos about tactical hand signals in military, after watching the movie Zero Dark Thirty. It was interesting to see, that a simple gesture can be sufficient to determine whether someone get killed or not. There might come more paintings with this motif. It is strong and seductively intimate.
I checked your website, you have a okcupid account, how’s that going so far? I also have a okcupid but i don’t use it anymore, one time I tried to use an image of a slice of bacon as my profile pic, and then the staff messaged me “are you sure this is real you?” duh..
I like the pizza idea! Hope there is a lot of cheese on it. - It’s hard for me to distinguish my life as a professional artist and my personal one. So, why not being honest with it. Fun fact: I am in a relationship for a few months with someone I didn’t meet via OkCupid and I just forgot to take it from my website.
Ok, let’s get back to paintings, what about the studio series? Five large photographs of you in your studio, each photograph pairs with a small abstract painting. It’s like a call and response. My favorite one is studio#3, it’s shocking and funny, it seems like you’re holding a cross or something. Are you religious? I actually like all five of them.
I am not religious and never was. Luckily, because I didn’t develop any complexes in terms of sin and guilt. But yes, Studio #3 reminds of religious motifs and I like it, especially because the studio is sometimes a sacred place, where magical things happen. I created a studio blog three years ago intending to worship the selfie culture, to promote my work and practice, or just plainly to have fun in the studio with the camera and myself. At some point, it felt natural to see these photographs as an independent body of work and to integrate it into my range of expressions. A direct connection between the painting and the ephemeral circumstances, in which the painting was created seemed reasonable and made this state of display possible. The work lives from its inherent contradictions.
Do you like taking photographs?
Sometimes I wish, I would have become a photographer. I love flattening the world. Photography is radical. But I can’t imagine myself sitting in front of Photoshop for hours.
How do you make your decision? making abstract paintings are hard in my opinion.
The time tells me if the piece is good or not; I wait until nothing bothers me anymore. If it does, I keep working on it. This can last up to a few years, even with small paintings. Decisions are basically told by my gut and experience.
Can you describe your “a day in the life”? basically your everyday routine.
Getting up a little too late, long breakfast, reading news, (day job), studio, (meeting someone), watching a TV show or film, going home to bed.
Let’s talk about Contributions to:SyrianIndependenceDay2014@gmail.com, when i see the word Syria, i think of the terrorist group. It becomes a natural thing nowadays, it's just sad.
Maybe we just need to get more educated about the Middle East. It is hard to keep an overview with this historically grown conflict. I started deciphering this subject last year and I still don’t get everything. It is not simple, and this makes it interesting for me. - The painting is based on a photograph, which was uploaded to the official Instagram account of the Syrian government. It was a picture promoting a flag contest for the Syrian Independence Day in 2014, for which you could submit your self-drawn flag of Syria. The example drawing in the photograph was made by one of the Assads’ children with color pencils. It is interesting how the Syrian regime uses social media as a tool for propaganda and representation in order to create a good image of themselves and to justify their brutalism against their own people. It contradicts many facts and the Assads fictionalize real life. By re-representing the image through painting, a kind of distance was created, which might lead to another thinking.
Any favorite artists?
There are some, which I want to mention here: Charline von Heyl, Phoebe Unwin, Kaye Donachie, Victor Man, Jonas Wood, Julius Hofmann, Allison Katz.
How old are you?
On the verge of 30.
Can you give an advice to young artists out there?
I hope, I am still a young artist! - Think about presence and the present age, and keep John Cages’ 10 Rules for Students and Teachers in mind: It works.
Favorite music, movies, food, and cartoon?
Haha, now we come back to OkCupid. Ok, Jazz and Pop - Thriller movies - Food made out of fat and sugar - Maya the Bee?
turned (cole) and Smaller (cole) are interesting paintings, can you talk about the relationship between these two paintings?
I love doing portraits, which are usually a little unconventional and only hinted in brackets within the titles. Rather character studies than traditional portraits. Cole is my ex-boyfriend and he was a very important person for me. Breaking up with him was the worst I have ever felt in my emotional life, the whole story became ugly afterwards and intensively painful. It came quite natural to turn him into a painting, it was a quasi reprocessing act. turned (cole) is a larger mid-format painting and is rather directly designed. While the pain decreased over time, I decided to reuse the drawing he made for a home party, turning it into a smaller, more sensitive painting. Retrospectively seen, especially the first painting makes my slight passive-aggressive behavior towards him blatantly apparent.
Settling down in Berlin, making it to the top.