"As long as we create, we process, and that is to be."
INTERVIEW by Dalila Tatarević
German artist, Stefan Pfeiffer (b. 1981), spent June and July 2014 as artist-in-residence at Fabrikken, sponsored by Copenhagen's residency program, CPH AIR. Pfeiffer was hosted by artist Erika Svensson, with whom Pfeiffer worked on the multimedia installation, Rafters; a work involving photo, video, sculpture, and painting.
While visiting "pleasant Copenhagen", as Pfeiffer has described it, he shared an ironic, self-referential analogy comparing painters to cavemen, as a response to the thought of being a painter in a time of digital media and information.
“When you walk around with a canvas, stretchers, and brushes, it can sometimes seem extremely old fashioned, since it has been the medium of a time long gone by. Nowadays, it also has this dandylike expression to it,” said Pfeiffer, who finds it interesting that painters continue with the ‘paint on canvas’ repetition, this "lump of history".
Pfeiffer does not find himself following a path of innovation within the art of painting – at least not consciously.
“Of course, it is fun to find something new by accident," Pfeiffer said. "But I don’t think that it adds anything to the 'temple' of painting.”
Yet, painting should not be defined as a closed or limiting form. Pfeiffer manages to create something new by including unusual elements to the art of painting, presenting surprises to the viewer.
“Usually a new group of work starts with an accident, or something I have been exposed to for a while, and that I just haven’t quite seen clearly. Then, I would take that, whatever it is, and start improvising. With the bruise paintings, it was like that.”
“I have been bruised quite a lot, but never really thought about it as an image, even when looking at it and thinking ‘oh, that’s nice’. And then I took it into the paintings and started adding band aids and it became some kind of narrative. Usually, I am more interested in the possibilities to read a painting and what it transmits, than to talk about a story.”
The process of starting with something unusual and then improvising manifests itself also in sculptural works and installations.
“In Copenhagen, I strolled around the streets and started picking up stuff that I found, not knowing what to do with it; like clothes, parts of wire, strings and parts of cleaning utensils, like mop- and broomsticks. I guess I started thinking about personalized objects with a kind of survival aesthetics. Objects that implicate a certain function, but are ultimately useless. That’s when I came across the bleach - to use it like paint, but to take the color away from the fabric. The same was used on another work I started with sleeping bags.”
Pfeiffer believes that talent and intelligence are related in the process of painting itself.
“As long as we create, we process, and that is to be. You have to understand what you are doing as a painter – not necessarily with a particular purpose, though."
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