Totally in love with the bright, graphic design-influenced installations and paintings by Lennart Foppe, who explores material combinations along with collected imagery from the internet and pop culture references. Fantastic interview here where we chat about his influences and education, and how he gets to work!
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Can you introduce yourself? Where are you based?
I am a contemporary artist from Germany who lives most of the time in Münster, but am currently traveling a lot, so anywhere between Münster and New York.
What has your art education been like, whether formally or informally?
I studied communication design with a main focus on editorial illustration and contemporary graphic design. Besides that I am working on mixed media installations and collages. I was working in the Kunsthalle as a freelancer as part of the logistics facility of solo and group exhibitions with regionally, nationally and internationally well-known artists. Most of these exhibitions are characterized by the fact that they offer an individual appearance so that the interior architecture and the wall design change from presentation to presentation, and extensive installations are often executed. While setting up, the exhibiting artists were always present, so I got the opportunity of a great exchange from many artistically minded people. For me this time was a big part of my informal art education.
What first interested you in making art, or in creating these installations specifically?
I was born into an artistic family: my father is a restorer of antique furniture and my mother studied arts and psychology. For my parents, engagement with art in general has always been highly important. My earliest memories of being confronted with art were at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I must've been 5 or 6 years old, and I remember sitting in front of one of these paintings, and looking to other people who reacted just overwhelmed and stunned. The special thing about this moment was that I thought that a magnificent “little“ painting can create such an emotion. Even though my mind at this time couldn't draw such complex conclusion, I just wanted to do something similar.
I’ve always been curious about artificial materials like plastics,foils or acrylic stuff. There is no material which is such present in our daily life like Plastic. In nearly every abstract form you are confronted with it. Over the past tow years I worked on series of works named “Materials with other dimensions“ which based on the confrontation with such materials. By using different techniques to process a variety of synthetic materials alongside fabrics and plastics, I wanted to create artificial forms that avoid direct references to existing objects but still evoke associations with often used materials. The complex material composition and static arranged objects re purpose useless compounds into something that appears functional or autonomously working. Even if, it has no function at all. Through this use of apparently everyday objects I try to evoke a subliminal intimacy and irritating effect on the viewer.
What kind of research or preparation do you do before or in the process of making your work?
At the outset of the installation I only have a rough plan. Most of the time I am strolling through endless aisles of surplus stores to find different kinds of materials and things I consider as useful for my planned project. After collecting various materials, I make a pre selection of things I wanna compare. Before comparing things, I often research backgrounds of materials. For example: I research chemical ingredients of things and try to include that kind of information in the process of making, or directly into the installations. Moreover, I try to include new processes, such as digital projections, collages, or GIFs. So I spend a lot of time researching things online.
What is your process like? Do you work intuitively, or plan in advance?
It depends. Sometimes I have a fully formed idea and I realize it, but most of the time certain aspects or compounds change -- especially when I work between several bodies of work.
What is your favorite part about working with materials the way you do? What is the most challenging aspect?
There are literally no limitations in working with materials. The dynamic of comparing certain materials evokes a great contrast in itself. Concrete next to a slimy latex mixture is, from the viewpoint of structure, very thrilling. By mixing different type of materials and structures you inevitably create a tension, and often it isn't manageable in its message. So, I guess that'sthe great thing about working with material based installations. Not every aspect is controllable and planned. You can use everything you want, but you have to put a detailed emphasis on areas you want to put in the foreground.
How would you describe your studio or workspace?
My current studio is my place of retreat where I create most of my installations. For me it is important that I am working in a clean environment, because it's hard to work on an installation that includes several types of material when it's messy around you. You can't be focused on your work if you are distracted by chaos. Most of the walls are hanging full of works that I am working on, or other things I have collected over the time. I only work on certain parts of the installation in my studio. The installation is completed later in a clean environment together (which means a clean room with white walls).
What is the best advice you've ever received so far? Is there any advice you're glad you decided not to take?
When I was younger my mother always listened to this song from Peter Gabriel called “Don't Give Up“. It's a wonderful song, and the title sums it up very well: never give up.
How would you describe "success?"
For me, success isn't connected to money or great recognition. When I look back at my work over the last few years and I can see how much I developed my work, that's success for me. Also, being satisfied with goals you have reached.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, either creatively or professionally?
To satisfactorily show that you stand behind what you do.
What are you working on right now?
Currently working on two big installations and large scale collages. I am also working on several commissions at the moment.
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