Interview by Kate Delamere
Your work has been described as literally ‘out of this world’, even ‘alienesque’. Do you draw inspiration from the cosmos and does your imagination play a part in your work?
No. When I paint, I try to repress my imagination, I fade it out, push it away, because I work in a process and for that imagination is a distraction. However, I’ve always been fascinated by the cosmos and the science related to it. I believe that what’s written in science fiction doesn’t match the reality of what might really be out there. My guess is that no-one will ever imagine what it could be like – maybe our senses are not even able to experience it.
How would you describe your creative process?
Painting is for me playing like a child – a solipsistic game – in the sense of being alone with oneself. Sometimes the game or play is simple, like playing in a sandpit. Sometimes it is complex, like a board game. It is not passive, mechanical or automatic. There is no experience on which the game is based.
You’ve been described as having a ‘free style’. Can you elaborate on that?
‘Free style’ means that when I’m working I’m completely free – there are no constraints, rules or restrictions. I may start off painting but it could turn into a sculpture. There’s only me and the laws of the paint and materials, but even those I experience anew time and again, through experiments in my working processes. I work in series. This way I don’t get stuck with one work and always move on to the next one. Later, with a certain distance when I go over the series again, it’s easier to destroy and analyse. Destruction can mean creation, discarding can mean renewal.
Over the years your palette’s evolved to become brighter with more distinct lines. How do you choose the mediums and tools for each individual piece?
A series is often dominated by similar materials, therefore the paintings belong together, for example; rice paper, jute, plaster, soil, ink. There’s no rule that a series must remain focussed on them. In my studio I often rediscover materials by stumbling upon them again.
What is the most unusual medium or tool you’ve used for a piece of art and why?
So many! In the past I’ve used oil paint, alkyd paint, acrylic, oil pastels, pastels, pigments, charcoals, graphite, fabrics, papers, wires, carrots, sand, shells, branches, cinder, glues, enamel, tea, coffee, marble dust, glass, ropes, string, wool, chestnuts, stones, sheet metal, tin cans, grogram, Chinese rice paper, soil, moss, roots, bark, leaves, iron filings, felt, concrete, honey, flour, salt.
I use them because a painting is never only colour, it’s also structure, texture and materiality. The colour is sometimes not important even though my palettes have become brighter.
As a German artist living in London, you were founder of the artist group ‘The Rip’ that exhibited work across the UK, Germany and Russia. Tell me more about the group and its origins?
The Rip was founded in 1987 in what was then West-Berlin. It was a group of painters, sculptures, musicians and writers and had around 10 members. Some of the artists did paintings together, others sculptures and a punk band called ‘der Riss’ was founded. As emerging artists we helped each other organise shows, readings and concerts in small galleries, derelict houses, former STASI-buildings and warehouses. We had connections to artists in St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia. It led to us showing our work there during the summer of 1991 and the band played in Leningrad. After Berlin became the capital of the reunified Germany, lots of members moved away from the city, so the group split up.