Hi Matthias, Collaging is a process of deconstructing and constructing, what originally drew you to this technique?
Collaging is also a process of associating. Isn’t our relationship to reality a matrix of associations? When I look at an object in reality, there is always a complex matrix of different feelings, memories and sensual impressions in the back of my mind. An ingenious artist in my (and your) brain creates complex collages that I then call “world”. This artist does his work so well that I normally don’t recognize him. Making collages allows me to simulate this construction of reality.
Let’s talk about your surreal houses, how did this idea come into being?
This is a very old idea. In my childhood I created a collage very similar to “On The Way To Kamtchatka”, with sheep on the roof and half-timber. A house is something like a transition zone between the mind and the world. And it is something we tend to ensoul. Architecture can contribute to reconcile mind, culture and objectivity. That’s why it is so thrilling for me to construct architectural collages.
You have referred to your work as ‘architectural short poems’, could you expand on this?
In my collages I try to create a net of relations between the single elements, which is similar to a classical poem with its rhyme-structure. And then there is the general approach of poetry: to enable an anticipation of something that cannot be described directly. Poetry uses metaphors or images. The quality of poetry comes from its “speaking haziness”.
“I think it’s a main exercise of art to reveal the topography of our “Inner landscape”, and it’s a wild and undiscovered landscape with lots of restricted areas full of splendid monsters.”
Some of your other work is much dark and slightly sinister, what draws you to this other side?
I love creating collages that are a little bit “psychedelic”. It’s refreshing to come into contact with the demons. If you meet them eye to eye they are powerful energies. I think it’s a main exercise of art to reveal the topography of our “Inner landscape”, and it’s a wild and undiscovered landscape with lots of restricted areas full of splendid monsters.
‘New Wallpaper for an Old Galaxy’ features a lot of animals, do they represent anything specific to you?
Your questions force me to think. Maybe they function similar to the houses. They represent the vulnerability and dignity of life/culture in indifferent material surroundings. And I love animals.
Throughout your work there are references to the man-made but there aren’t any people in your work, is this a conscious theme
That’s not right, there are some collages with people. I love portraying people with a very personal collage. If I had a sponsor I would like to design a book with special portrayals of special people. On the other hand the personality of people appears to be so strong that it overpowers the more general, metaphorical statement. And it may be more interesting to imagine the inhabitants of a surreal house. After all YOU may be the inhabitant.
Do you source photographs or take them yourself?
All the single elements are photographed by me. The only exceptions are some background-images from Mongolia, Alaska and Greenland. They come from a befriended photographer and journalist Oliver Abraham. I could search for the “ingredients” of my collages in the Internet, but that would be some kind of gluttony. It’s better to have a personal relationship to the sources.
Once you have your images, do you have quite a clear idea of what you’re going to create or is there a lot of playing around with imagery?
Both. I need some kind of vision at the beginning. After a few hours of work the collage it normally looks like scrap. That is very frustrating and it needs a lot of “playing around with imagery” to break through. Most of my collages have had that “dead spot”. In general there are two main challenges: to construct the house and to adapt it to the right surroundings.
You are a graphic designer by trade, how does this influence your collages and vice versa?
I learned a lot of techniques during my studies, but I think that’s all. I worked on collages before being a graphic designer. Working as an artist, I need a different self concept.
What do you hope people take from your work?
The feeling of being in touch with something meaningful.