Interview with Sebastian Menzke

Sebastian Menzke

Interviewed by Oliver Blohm

Sebastian Menzke is a german artist, currently living in Berlin. After finishing his diploma in product design, he started to focus on abstract paintings. His works are telling a story, beyond from time. The shapes of his objects could be part of the past and at the same time, part of the future.

1. Who are you and why do you concentrating on painting, than on product design?

Well, I’ve decided to favour life instead of money! The impulse for painting has been huge and still is. In the end there was no real choice for what I am doing.

I already knew back in school that I’m going to take a different path without knowing how it may look like. I grew up in the eastern part of Germany out of contact to other artists or any artistic influence. Due to the subsequent studies of product design I once more got shaped and obtained skills guiding me on my way into an uncertain and appealing future as a painter.

2. What are you general influences?

There are many things that I consider to be interesting and influencing. But I try to avoid and forget highly impressive things to the greatest possible extent in order to evade approaching the original. Often it is not simple but recognized as part of the process of reinvention.

3. You are presenting here, a part of you Africa series. What brings you to that topic?

The catalyst behind the african paintings can be seen in the disaster of Fukushima. There has always been a particular interest in disasters from my side especially those of nature like earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis and extraordinary incidents. But Fukushima has been different. The human being itself transformed the natural catastrophe meaning the sea earthquake and the resulting tsunami into an unnatural disaster which increased the tragedy and turned it into one of the most fatal global incidents ever. Until today it is terrifying and fascinating to me and I still can not conceive it. Even today I am still watching documentaries or reading articles about this issue. It changed my mind concerning the art and I had the feeling to express myself in the painting.

After that I looked around to find other subjects touching me in a similar way and that are worth to be worked with. I discovered Africa as an issue. Of course the complex of problems there seems to be steady with slightly changes. It is all about profit, corruption and incredible poverty, a dismal disposition that is equally challenging to me. Also habits and tradition show something obscure and mysterious which can not be easily understand. The Life seems to be so different and more natural. It touches.

The state of the paintings changes understandably by estrangement or distance. I don’t want to create new paintings that could be seen in Africa as well. My different social background plays just as important a role as life on the spot. The mixture of both and the unknown result are creating the stimulus of reinventing the situation again.

4. What means Africa in relation to the future for you?

I think Africa is going to be very important economically. After leaving China and India behind the industrial production train is going to move forward to manufacture all possible goods in Africa. I do not own visionary skills but this process already started to the disappointment of those who have nothing. Nevertheless I hope that Africa will find peace one day.

5.The abstraction itself, is an important point in your works. Some shapes of the cubism are in your paintings as well. What makes you reflect like this?

At all times I try to move between abstraction and object which represents the most interesting setting to me. Paintings are very personal so they partly express my character. It is no significant effort to abstract or objectify the paintings in this manner.

6.Why are you working mostly with oil? It needs time to dry? We are living more and more in a high speed world. Why are you follow this traditional way of art?

That’s right! It’s not easy to use oil-based paint and you need some experience to master the craft. Just painting without any rules often implies difficulties that have an impact on resistance. A good painting looks like a brand new creation even after years. But I am still learning. Painting is a love-hate relationship. I also create graphic works using India ink or water colour, doing gravure printing and even objects. But the main part is limited to the classical medium. I was captivated by painting from the very beginning due to the ability to possibly reach a unique quality which is hard to gain with other instruments.

7.What means time for you?

Time is everything and nothing.

Thank you and have a nice future!