Interview with Philipp Artus, Part 1

Berlin-based artist Philipp Artus speaks at the Phillips on May 11, and his work will be featured at the 2017 Contemporaries Bash: Berlin Underground. We asked the artist a few questions about his process and his work at large.

FLORA, Philipp Artus

Tell us a little about yourself. When did you first begin pursuing the arts?
I grew up in Bremen, a German city close to the North Sea. After school I moved to Nantes in France to study art and experimental film. I then spent one year in Portugal with a cat to learn about character animation and its relation to sound and music. Later I continued my studies of Media Art in Cologne/Germany, where I developed an interest in site-specific installations. After graduation I moved to Berlin, where I have lived and worked since 2013.

What is your creative process like?
I often start with an idea and let it develop its own life, so that I can follow it. Thus, when I am working on a project I never really know where the idea will take me. I need this sense of discovery to keep me excited throughout the project. This curiosity makes me get to know various different artistic fields and sometimes allows me to draw unusual connections between them.

One example for this working style is my most recent project FLORA. I started to learn text-based coding from scratch about two years ago. At first it felt like I was going nowhere, but after a while I learned how to combine my knowledge about animation with the principles of computer programming. The result was the installation FLORA, which is a combination of animation and algorithmic art. I think it is this mixture of different artistic fields that characterizes my work and makes it unique.

Installation view of Artus’s BerlinerListe exhibition

Do you have any recurring themes you like to play with in your work?
Life is a recurring theme in my work that I like to play with. The word animation originates from the Latin word “anima”, meaning “give life to.” In my work I am exploring animation, which is essentially the expression of life through movement. Due to this connection to life, even my most abstract works have a figurative spirit.

Also, I often like to create dialogues of oppositions: a fast-paced film can simultaneously feel slow and meditative. A serious topic might be mixed with whimsical and absurd ingredients. A timeless theme can be combined with playful quotations of popular culture… I like surprising myself and the viewer, and challenging our preconceived ideas and stereotypes.

Read Part 2 of our interview with the artist here.

George Condo Is Staring into My Soul

Condo installation-09_Lee Stalsworth

George Condo, The Discarded Human. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

George Condo’s The Discarded Human is a rather harsh image of a female figure leaning back and staring at the viewer. Condo takes away a structured perspective, making the figure’s body look twisted and deformed. The woman is holding herself up with her arms, creating a strong pose for an otherwise contorted body. Attached to this body is a dark face with distorted facial features.

Everything about this work makes me uneasy. The dark tones and shades of gray create a dim mood for the scene. There’s no sign of the time of day, but I can’t help imagining it’s the middle of the night. The woman’s straight forward stare and gaping mouth make her seem like more of a monster than a human. Condo seems to do this with such ease that I feel like part of the image is him staring out at me, chuckling as he watches me try not to squirm uncomfortably.

Condo might also be making a commentary on the view we put on the female body. He has forced the pose of this figure to be contorted so as to see both her butt and breasts, but also disrupts the view with her ominous and lurking face, making us question what beauty is and where we choose to see it.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Who is George Condo?

Exhibition at The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.

Installation view of George Condo: The Way I Think. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

With a net worth of almost as much as the celebrities he creates works for, George Condo has quickly taken over the celebrity art world. Even if you have never heard his name, chances are you have seen some of his work. The truth is, Condo has a foothold over our culture in ways that we may not even know. Condo was born in Concord, New Hampshire, and has worked with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Jack Kerouac. One of his biggest clients has been Kanye West, who he worked with to explore everything from twitter profile pictures to album cover art and back-up dancers for a VMA performance.

Condo is also known for his breakdown of pictorial images in a way that differs from mainstream art historical styles such as expressionism or surrealism. Instead, he creates a hybridization of different styles to create his own unique one. His art is filled with inventiveness and existential humor. The Way I think surveys over 200 works spanning Condo’s entire career, including a few drawings of when he was just eight year old. This exhibition gives us a view into the mind of the artist and how he sees the world around him. It is rather extraordinary to peer into the humorous world of someone who is as talented and established as Condo.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern