Happy to share the work of, and a wonderful interview with Anton Schön, who is currently based in Dresden and just recently become a father! We chat about growing up in a creative family, how to know a painting is finished, and bits of advice picked up here and there. More at the links afterward, of course!
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First, can you introduce yourself? What first interested you in making art?
I am a 32 year old artist living in Dresden, Germany. I grew up in a poor and creative family with my mom who was a set designer, and my father a sculptor. Luckily the last days of the GDR went over, before I came into school. My youth was highlighted by doing graffiti and tattooing later. I studied industrial design in lower Austria, with the aim of getting more serious about my creativity. Then I studied set painting in Dresden, instead of continuing the design career. There I switched to visual arts after two semesters set painting.
What has your art education been like, formally or informally?
I finished art school last year with a two year post-graduate degree. Before that I attended the class of the painter Christian Sery. Who taught conceptual art in the extended field of painting. During university I mostly concentrated on my studio work, while having several theoretical courses and workshops besides. My studio was in a historic art school building in the city centre of Dresden. Working there next to the river was just fantastic. Especially the bright, huge studios were a daily pleasure.
You work primarily in paintings that are colourful and abstract -- can you tell me a bit more about your practice?
I am directly drawn into action by the colourful dripping nature of paint, the same moment I am entering my studio.That is why I treat my self doing several sketches before I start to paint, to avoid collecting only records of my, you can say paint-obsession. Especially large scale paintings are glad to receive some preparatory work. Never the less is the main focus on the painting process. The abstract form refers in my practice always to real objects. Room and body contours, more than shades and textures are the core elements of my formal language. Most of my abstract forms are originated in my close surroundings and of course in books and the internet. Taking photos helps me to define my designs.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I am on parental leave.
What is the thing that intrigues you or challenges you the most about the media you work in, or the ideas related to it?
Sometimes it is cruel. Once I have a fantastic idea, ideal to translate it into painting, I have to realize that I can not force every image to be a painting. In other words, there is no need to make a perfect sketch or photo into a painting, despite its marvelous painterly quality. So kind of the biggest challenge for me is to find a substantial necessity for working on or with an image. Also the question what pictures tell through their subject matter, shapes, colours and the way they are made or be articulated through material keeps me busy.
What is your process like?
Emotions lead more than half of the development of my works. In painting this part is still stronger than in other media I work with. The clearer my intentions are before starting, the bigger is the space for letting feelings speak during the making. My works deal quiet often with room. I like to built up rooms, imaginary and real ones in the same extend. Architecture and by man cultivated land are a big inspiration. I take photos of very specific set ups and print them out to use them for sketching templates. During the sketching I modify the picture. I mostly do a couple of different variations, changing proportions, the arrangement of objects and the focus. Many works are just a slight reminiscence of the original picture when finished. There are some important aspects a work should have to be called finished. First it should be still fresh, open and new to me after the making and it should show some specific interplay with room.
What is your studio like currently?
It is as if time stands still since two months and longer. I have my last canvas project half-done hanging on my studio wall. My desk is covered by photos, books and studies. All seems to be frozen in the middle of something. The last weeks before parental leave I kept on doing my stuff as if nothing has changed. I can hardly wait to continue working there again, besides being an absolutely lucky father.
What do you consider to be the most challenging or daunting part of pursuing an artistic practice, whether creatively or professionally?
Being a businessman and a doubting-and-searching creative in one person -- is sometimes very schizophrenic. I am continuously balancing the accurate and the loose. I believe as an artist one has to reinvent oneself and keep on trusting in one’s abilities at the same time. It is like doing a lottery. One has to be an absolute risk taker.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice that someone has given you, who/which has changed the way you approach your work?
During art school one can collect various statements that swirl around the head for a long time. Some are more or less helpful, here are a few of them:
“Painting is like couple dance!” “Think from big to small!” “You need an idea first!” “Everything has to fit in its place!” …
A quite funny one about studying art was: “After diploma is before diploma!” …
I think the belly is the best advisor over all.
What do you need most, or value most, as an artist?
How would you define "success?"
Success depends on my personal objectives.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me.
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