Florian Pöllmann dedicates himself to painting full-time in a live-work barn studio space in rural Austria (who wouldn't want to do that!?). I've been digging his recent series of diptychs, which pair abstract paintings of equal size together, sometimes literally chained, made with a variety of materials and surfaces, including rubbish bin bags, spray paint, and markers.
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Hi! First, can you tell me more about yourself? When did you first begin making art?
My name is Florian Pöllmann and I was born in Salzburg, 1990. My parents have a big farm in the countryside of upper Austria, a very idyllic place called Mondsee. Since I can remember I loved to draw things. I wasn’t really interested in football and other stuff like kids off the same age. Somehow, I drew my friends and let them play in my imagination. So most of the time I was for myself. I was doodling and sketching the whole day in school. My books were covered with lines, skulls, skateboard logos and stuff. But I wasn’t always really convinced of my skills, so I didn’t show it to anybody.
You've studied architecture until recently, and your work deals with natural themes and abstraction of the human form. Were you always interested in painting, or did it develop during your architectural studies?
I first began making art back when I started to go to Architecture University. Better, let’s say even thinking about art. University opened my eyes. It helped me to see things in different lights and perspectives. Like back in middle school I was drawing, sketching, and planning the whole day. I started with murals, but it didn’t took me long to realize that it was too much risk of being caught.
So I decided to paint on the little floor of my apartment. Soon the whole carpet, which I used to cover the floor, was full of paint. During the day I was in university and at night I tried to express myself. I painted often 'til the sunrise. I think this was the time I really felt lucky that I found something I love. It was the time when I realized, “I WANT TO BE AN ARTIST.”
I was and I am still very interested in architecture, but somehow I was more inspired by paintings. Architecture showed me the way to get in touch with art, and the power of making it. By showing my work and getting good feedback, I started to get more self-confident. I started to think more and more about being a full time artist. Since I have my degree, my focus is on making art. It's the only thing I keep thinking about.
You use a mix of oil, acrylic, and spray paint, as well as some other mixed media... do you have a favorite medium? What do you like most about your chosen materials?
My paintings are often very fast and raw in execution. I like to use strong colors, and oils are perfect for that. Markers are perfect for something else, and China black ink is good for something too. So every medium has his best possible application to use. But most of the time I combine spray-paint with acrylics.
In my fast workflow this combination allows me to react and to create impulsively and fast. I love to combine different materials, and I love to experiment with different kind of colors and materials to create new structures and textures. Recently I painted something on roofing felt. I love to mix different mediums, and make a whole one out of them.
My newest love is painting on dump bags which I put with glue and acrylic on the canvas/frame. I don’t have any favorite medium; colors are colors, doesn’t matter if they are oil, acrylics or spray-paint. All of them are perfect.
What is your studio space like?
My Studio space is an idyllic dream, I’m super lucky to have a space like this. It’s actually a barn at the lake. A lot of friends join me there in the summer days. We hang out together, and have a good time. Like the two sides of the same coin, in the winter its damn cold.
And it’s quite hard to paint there, also not very good for the colors and canvas. In summer I paint in underwear, and in the winter with snow clothes. But nevertheless this place is perfect. I have the whole attic for studio space. It’s a bit like a little wooden penthouse full with paintings and a nice view to the lake.
I more than grateful for this. There I can comprehend what’s going on inside, there I feel absolute free. Once I’m painting there, I’m telling the truth, there are no mistakes, no ifs, ands, or buts, simply the place to be.
How much time during the day or the week are you typically able to spend on your work?
Since the beginning of 2016 I am a full time artist, and mostly every day I work in the studio, during the summer I even sleep there. I stand up, and the first thing I do is to paint. My bed frame is actually a canvas frame, same size as my mattress. For me it’s not an art project; it’s a way of living.
So I spend a lot of time on my work. Don’t know how much time it is actually. I think when I came to the point where I get quite all right with the end result, I started to get addicted to creating new works. I think it’s about going beyond limits and trying new things to develop a unique style of expression. Painting is like an absolute zero point, like meditation, like a fall down to something new.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Best advice was from an old fast driving, architect and philosopher in Portugal. He said something like, "As soon as you say you’re an artist, you are."
What do you consider to be your biggest challenge as a young artist?
The challenge is to be ruled by coincidence, a bit of luck, and lot of work. And the ability of not giving up. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t, and there are months where you can sell a lot, and have some money to burn, and then there is nothing for months. And then you have to keep moving, keep producing, and stay confident. That’s really hard sometimes.
Also, if customers say an artwork is too expensive, I always try to be friendly, but outspoken. I want to say to them: go and buy a TV for the same money and don’t pretend to give a shit about art. People often buy with the ears, but should buy with the eyes and the heart. The struggle is real, but it’s worth it. It’s freedom.
What do you find to be most exciting or rewarding about what you do?
Most exciting is that if I put enough time, love and energy in work, sometimes something unique will happen. Not always, but sometimes everything goes right. I love to have dirty hands, to be fully covered in color and to wear rags.
It’s good to be a bit different. I think painting is a lot like life: if you don’t burn the canvas you can always paint it white again. Every day is like a blank canvas. Make something with it, and don’t think too much about it... suddenly it will work out.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?
At the moment I'm working on a new wooden series; two or more should go together to create pairs. The paintings will be multi-dimensional and carved, and not just quadrangular.
Next steps for me will be an exhibition in Vienna and Switzerland. I also want to apply for an artist residency, going abroad, to jump out of my comfort zone and create something new.
Find more at Instagram.com/pizkoo!
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