Invictus

Invictus (Thank you C.M. for the image)

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

My artwork “Invictus” was inspired by the Victorian poem with the same title by William Ernest Henley (1849–1903). It is an overpainted collage, with a dimension of about 70 x 50 cm.

The original artwork has been framed in a gold-coloured antique vintage frame and resides within a private collection in Thuringia, Germany, within a stately home. It was one of the pieces that weren’t really easy for me to part with, but it is good to know it in such a lovely place. There is a strictly limited edition of 23 artprints available at the Ateliershop, with different sizes to choose from. It is also possible to create a custom size art print.

Henley’s poem does tell you more about this artwork than any words of mine ever could. If you follow my writings, you might have found out already that I do not write these “work introductions” to explain my art, but rather to give you a background story and some basic data. I have never been much into poetry at all, most of it I find a waste of time to be honest, but this one is a piece that did strike a chord with me when I read it the first time, and it does again, any time I re-read it. It has been like a mantra for dark times for me ever since.

Invictus

Detail

Submission

“Submission” is my largest piece to date and measures 122 x 99cm (including frame).

This piece is probably the one that received the most attention from the audience over the years and raised the most questions. The original was only exhibited twice, the artprint version much more often and even made it to the USA. You can find some thoughts about “Submission”  as well in last year’s printed edition of Pfingstgeflüster (in German language), the author quite obviously visited the exhibition in Leipzig during Wave Gotik Treffen 2017. The original is NOT FOR SALE, it is only possible to buy a limited edition print (only 23 available).

I will for sure not explain the image itself to you, hell no, but answer the constant question of how it was done technically. This work is an overpainted collage, based on my own photographs. The original photographs also appeared as black & white images in my book release “Sintra” in 2005, which is long out of print. The photographs were cut apart and re-assembled to something completely new and then overpainted in a complete layer. The overpaint consists of acrylic paint and some blood. Yes, it’s my own blood. You can see some details in the images below. The frame is an antique original, dating back to around 1900.

A journey within a journey: Alice in Wonderland

A while back I revisited Sintra (Portugal) in company of two friends. Apart from the typical sightseeing plans, we had also planned another kind of journey, a psychedelic trip in the company of Alice, within the setting of the lovely mountains of the Sintra range. Our first idea, to do this in the night within one of the parks of Sintra was shattered when we watched the security marching in – and we delayed the journey for one day. Instead I used the evening to successfully cure one of my friends from her arachnophobia, as it seemed crazy to me to take her into the forest in company of Alice with this fear.

We spent the whole next day outside in the mountains until dust. The journey was very intense, as expected, and left all participants in a rapturous state of mind, when we slowly descended back to our temporary home chalet while it slowly got dark.

[A few days prior to our journey, still in Leipzig, my mobile phone broke. I hate buying new phones, but looking through the offers a special phone caught my attention, with a build-in-camera and a real lens. It was not available in the local shop, but the shop owner promised me it would arrive before the travel. It did, but very very last minute. I had to catch a cab to the airport and stop over at the shop, run in and out to get to my flight in time – with the new phone…]

As I was not going to drag my camera equipment with me on a psychedelic journey, I intended to shoot images with the new device, which showed indeed a very decent image quality. Of course, I did not do the shooting before Alice calmed down again, otherwise it would have been impossible to handle the camera. But I still had visual effects looking around and all the small details of the forest floor caught my attention. The colors were far more intense than usual and everything seemed to have a metallic shimmer. Later, when I processed the images, I tried to bring back those visual perceptions Alice gave me, and I am quite content with the results.

 

To enhance the effect, resulting images have been printed on metallic or (depending on the size) high gloss photo paper. Of course, this doesn’t really come out on this web versions. Prints are available on request, please contact me via email or the Ateliershop if you’re interested to have these on your walls. They are available in different sizes, up to 45x45cm per piece.

(If this article confuses you, you might want to look up the different meanings of “Alice”. I think many people would have added a disclaimer, saying something like “Don’t do this…”, but I strongly believe in everyone being resposible for him/herself.)

Sunwheels

logo of the Ateliershop

It is safe to say that I have become  artistically obsessed with sunwheels since quite some time. This goes along nicely with my late obsession for the sun itself. A few years back, this was quite different. I hated summertime and took every chance to lurk around in the shadows, as being exposed to the sun was a complete hell for me. But that changed at some point. Today, for me, there is nothing better than a hot and dry sunny day. After winter, when spring comes with the first sunny days, I feel like a cold-blooded lizard, eagerly waiting to get my body temperature on a functional level by sitting in the sun.

 

You find representations of the sun in every culture. It is one of the oldest archaic symbols men created. You find it on cave walls, ancient jewellery, architecture and sculptures. Whole cults were dedicated to the sun. Which is highly understandable, given the fact that without the sun we would not even exist. Even plants, that don’t care for radiation levels killing all other life, would not exist without the sun, as their life is based on the process of photosynthesis. Celebrating the solstices is also a very old tradition, and personally one of the ones that I follow myself. While many other traditional celebrations seem odd to me, specially the modern adaptions of them, the summer solstices feel very real. While for example New Year’s Eve means nothing to me at all, the summer solstices truly devide my year in seasonal parts that I can feel and experience.

The first sunwheel I ever created was a digital collage, dating back almost 15 years, when I was actually still prefering to stay out of the sun. Same creation has become my Ateliershop logo last year, with a different color scheme though. A second one followed a few years later, the artwork “Four Kissing Goats“, a mix of photography-based digital collage and overpainting. The artwork was banned from my first exhibition in Berlin in 2009, because the responsible gallerist feared a similarity to a certain forbidden German symbol. I don’t really see the connection. I wear a variation of the same artwork on my back by way, tattooed on my skin.

After those works, I was done with the subject for quite a while. Until 2014, when my obsession for sunwheels and the sun really started. Moving into my old studio in Leipzig (the original Atelier Abraxas) in December 2013, the whole area around it was a strange urban wasteland. Some dead plants caught my attention, because of their roots, and I took them into the studio. They did lounge around for a few month, until I came up with the idea of a sunwheel made of roots. The rootwheel was born. The idea stuck, and I created a few variations of it. After that I lost count. The rootwheel also became a motive for the handpainted shirts of my small label Okkulteur, but that happend quite some time later, somewhen in 2016, during my time in the Thuringian forest. Those rootwheels also became patient zero of a series of sunwheel sculptures made from different materials. At some point I created the “Antler’s Cross” and the “Antler’s Wheels”, followed by the “Wheel of Seven“, a sunwheel made of goat/sheep bones, with ornamental fox teeth and a dolphin vertebrae in the center. My latest sunwheel is the “Wheel of Fire”, made of dried Protea repens and lower jaws of deers. Anyone who visited my last exhibition “KultHaus” might remember it. Sketches and ideas for more sunwheels exist already and the upcoming new collection of handpainted shirts will also feature at least one new version. The worship of the sun will continue!

 

Fishing for compliments / Der Menschenangler

This is definetely the oldest piece for the category “Introducing work pieces” and obviously not in line with my recent works. Nevertheless I still like the absurdity of it.

This photography dates back to the 80s, maybe 1987/88, when I was 14 or 15 years old. It is the oldest experimental photograph in my archive, taken with a small analog camera. It was shot at the shore of the island Sylt, far northwest of Germany, surrounded by the Northern Sea. I used to spend many summer holidays there in my childhood and youth. The red spot below the center of the image is actually my mother, wearing a hilarious fire-red raincoat, that always made my father ashamed to leave the house with her. He attached a lot of importance to seem like a truly conservative fellow, wearing something so fire-red seemed wicked to him and completely ruined the facade he liked to maintain.

As you see, I started taking photographs quite early in my life, but in the beginning, I didn’t own a single lens reflex camera, but one of those little black plastic boxes with one build-in lens, that only allowed point and shoot. It kept bugging me that I had not much influence on the resulting image this way, and I started experimenting with double exposures to do something more creative with the limited options I had. After shooting one image, I simply didn’t use the transport wheel, but shot another one first. Over the years, moving around a lot, I lost almost all negatives and images of those days. But this image somehow made it until today. Sadly, the negative is lost, too. The image displayed here is actually not a scan but a mobile snapshot of the original, so the quality is not very high.

Last summer, I entered this image into a contest on Photocrowd, called “Absurdist created completely in-camera“. While the crowd-rating put it on rank 79, the judge  of the contest picked it as a winner. The original German title “Der Menschenangler” would actually translate to “fishing for humans”, but “fishing for compliments” still seems to be a more proper translation.