Saturday, March 24, 2007

Art Space Talk: Stefan Saffer

I recently interviewed artist Stefan Saffer. Mr. Saffer studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts (Nuremberg) and Goldsmiths (London). He was a Master Student of Professor R.G Dienst. Stefan lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I think this might have been already in my childhood. I did not know that it was called art but I loved to draw and paint and there is the story that I was so deep into drawing once that I forgot that kindergarden was over and my mother was there to pick me up. Later in the age of 15 I announced that I will become an artist."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "I grew up in a small village with no understanding fo art at all. This shaped a very strong demand in me to be able to make art which could access even those who are not knowing of art or who grew up with no understanding of art. I later entered and founded a collaborative of artists and architects to create possibilities for art to include people at their level of an understanding of art. Since 2005 I am again working allone."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "It takes on average exactly as long as it takes."
Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "Philosophy and art develop constantly further within ones worklife. I can say what I still like about art. That is its ability to create a very individual communication between the viewer and the work which expands by far the limits of language or knowledge. I am hoping for some of my pieces that they maintain an interesting discourse within society, within individuals beyond my life."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "I dont think in those terms too much but I can share a few of those moments I loved. The monents I like are those where people who I do not know and who might not know anything about my art get caught by a sparkle of one of my works and get intrigued to rethink maybe a thought or to question their own perspectives."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I am listening constantly to radio and I do have a nice collection of radiostations online always with me to listen to their broadcast everywhere like npr or deutschlandradio etc."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I wish for the people who collect my art to be smart and sensitive and beautiful and maybe they all are like that."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "I think an important piece for me was "Jackson and me" which is a poster of a work of Pollock and a drawing on the back of his work and then there are all in betweens of my drawing cut and bend through his work like a splitter bomb crashing through a wall. It took me a long time to get started on this work and I had the poster on my table for a long time. I really think that this piece enabled me to create my very personal dialouge with art history but more important with artist I respect deeply and who I had wished to argue with when they were alive. I decided to not sell this piece."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "Oh well. I did my MFA at Goldsmiths College at a time when Micheal Craig Martin was still there teaching. I think any school is only as good as its teachers and a reputation does not tell you whether teachers are good or not. One has to find out and look out for THE teacher. That means students should not take eductaion for granted but look around and test out many things. This is not about chosing the easiest way."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I love paper and cardboard but I am not at all limited to any medium. Paper is just great because it is never really the same. Besides that you can get paper everywhere."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. ""

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I am represented by Kate Macgarry in London and my next upcoming solo show will be 2008 there. I just had a solo show in New York at Pavel Zoubok and I am in a group show in Cologne at the moment."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in?

A. "Oh there are many. Look up my cv on my webpage and then you can figure it out yourself. "

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I see a trend to skip craftmanship completely as well as formal thinking. I also see a trend to copy a lot. Both trends are rather worrying."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Well only one. Don't give up and don't stop working on your works and don't measure your success in money or shows or whatever the so called market wants you to believe is success."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "The toughest point is when you realise that you really made a very bad work for a show. That is very bad."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Thats all I can and thats all it needs."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I live in Berlin and Berlin is the greatest city for artists worldwide at the moment. There is no scene but many, many scenes and the number of scenes and artists is growing."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "It always does in many ways. I am not sure though whether it has to enter in a visual way."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Religion was part of my uprbinging and I am sure that traces of it, in a subconcious way, could be found in my works too, maybe."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "Do you really think that the art world is who artists want to address with their works or is it just the world?"
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Stefan Saffer. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


Blandine Attey said...

fantastic work! blandine attey

Anonymous said...

I really like his strong use of negative space, which I now know is really lacking in my own work.

Cristina Velazquez said...

I like the answer: "It takes on average exactly as long as it takes."

The artwork is colorful, intricate and highly interesting.

Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.