Interview | from the catalogue KRISTALLBILDUNG 2017

What is "serigraphy" and why do you work with this technique?

Serigraphy is easy to explain, it is a unique copy of screen printing. My pictures exist only once, I do not create editions. They are produced in several work processes and I cannot reproduce them. I can work with the same screens and motives but the works will be different.

How is this possible? Printing after all stands for reproducibility!

I don't see myself as a "printer" but as a painter because I paint on the screens with the squeegee the way a painter uses a brush on the canvas. I create new coloured worlds with a screen, paint and a "tool". The only difference between me and a painter is the choice of equipment and that I actually have to work intuitively because the screen covers the canvas. I can only see the result that initially has just been in my head after finishing the process. Removing the screen from the canvas feels like opening a curtain. I have a different screen for each colour, which I arrange on the canvas. After each run I have to decide and to decide quickly how to proceed. This is how serigraphy printing works. This is brilliant and exciting. In Austria we would say "Mir taugt das" (I like that).

By positioning the screen spontaneously and manually on the canvas I create unique works with fascinating haptics. This is my world. I am fascinated by the combination of different traditional techniques. It was that way in music with harp and oboe. In fine arts first linocut (a very picturesque way of expression, again with unique copies) and now serigraphy.

Your works sometimes seem very hard on one hand if you look at them in detail - screen dots and spaces alternate - and on the other hand in some parts very soft and vulnerable. How does this fit together?

I cannot give a general answer to this question. The squeegee - my brush - is the tool that brings the paint to the canvas in the traditional technical terms. I push the paint through the screen. This is actually like playing an instrument. You can play an instrument technically to perfection but you will not always reach or touch the audience. The artist has to become one with the instrument played to reach the audience. This is possible through expression and momentum. I use the pressure on the screen that is generated through the squeegee in combination with the paint to create my picture on the canvas. That can be hard or soft. Depending on how much paint I let go through the screen and how much pressure I apply, I create these waves on my pictures. I "play" the screen with paint and with my movements over the medium. This is like jazz for me. There is a destination but the path to get there is one’s own choice, having said that, the technique has to be right.

A main feature is the screen dot, which I find per se very fascinating. These fine dots that lie on top of each other in different colours and form the motif. In detail a beautiful, fine play of dots - from a distance you can see the whole image. I continually find new aspects even in my pictures. They are always exciting and diverse.

Why are high-rise buildings such a frequent and important theme in your art?

I have always been fascinated by the contrasts. I grew up in the mountains of the Alps. On one hand the landscape is very beautiful and on the other hand it can be threatening depending on the season and the weather. I grew up with these contrasts. High-rise buildings in the megacities of this world hold the same fascination for me. Beautiful, when viewed from a distance or at night, when the city lights are glowing. Threatening, when standing in front of them and looking up. For that reason they are called "street canyons". I have always been fascinated by high-rise buildings. Striving upwards or "being at the top" has a great appeal to many people.
Furthermore, houses are ideas shaped by a creative mind - the architect. I find it very appealing to reinterpret these ideas and recreate them layer by layer in my paintings. This way they emerge in a new world and a new environment, a different context.
I try to break geometrical forms and bring them into a picturesque setting. This is my objective. Taking everything apart to create something new within my special colour worlds. Shedding new light on beautiful architecture and creating something distinctively new. In my opinion, architects in particular, spend a lot of time making an artistic idea possible. In the end the idea has to be built and be "buildable". This is a long process and often they have to defend their idea in front of several people, exposing them to criticism in public decision-making processes before the work can be carried out. This is in my opinion a huge challenge for each and every creative mind. I can neglect these limits in my art and create new buildings in a new world. Architecture is my muse and inspires me to create new worlds.

Many times you have included the harp, the divine instrument, in your projects. How come?

For almost 30 years I have been playing the harp and I love self-made music. Until today I regularly play my instrument in different projects. I don't want to miss that because my love for music is also an anchor for me in my fine art. When I play myself it takes me to another dimension, another artistic level. Therefore, I find it logical to include this from time to time in my art. For a long time I was not able to decide where my focus was and I had many battles with myself over what I wanted to do.
However, I don't have to take this decision as I feel at home in both worlds. A fine artist who can also play the harp. Therefore, I sometimes stage my openings with harp and painting. My harp play can keep people "grounded" and tune them in on the opening, I include myself in that.

Could we also say this makes you unique?

No, this is not a unique characteristic. There are enough great role models who were musicians and artists. In contrast to others I often had to put up with criticism. The redhead with the harp who can't decide, that sort of thing. In the beginning I took this to heart and it even made me doubt.
People are often looking to put people into boxes. However, at this stage I no longer care. As I have said before, I do not have to decide. Moreover, I actually want to combine both fields, if it fits for me and the concept. In November 2017 I will stage a performance with light, serigraphy and harp in Japan based on my previous projects. The host did not know my paintings or my harp play but only the project "The blue Eros" and precisely this must have fascinated her. For me this is a new culture and a new exciting way to meet people and art at the Smart Illumination Festival in Yokohama. I am really looking forward to it and I am excited to see what will happen.

from Patrick Marcolli / Translation Johanna Thurner-Colein