ROBERT MALTE ENGELSMANN / BERLIN, GERMANY
Dynamic, abstract-figurative line drawing and mixed media painting processes on paper are the center of my artwork.
Reduction, abstraction and the challenge of perception — in simplicity and also complexity are conceptual themes i am interested in.
When i draw, I let the line decide, let the line flow. This process I call ‘flowstate-drawing’.
Prjct Social / INTERVIEW
Walk us through a day in the studio. When you are fully committed to working on a new or current piece, what is your mindset, goals you keep in mind? What kind of mood does your space give off?
over the past years, i am not working in a studio, but have my workspace in my apartment, which has just one single room. having everything in one place can be very comfortable,
but also a real struggle – for example in necessary distance to one's work. Nevertheless space and atmosphere are very important for me, and i am trying to make
the best out of the situation.
There is this scene in ‘Howl's Moving Castle' where Markl, the protagonist’s apprentice turns the switch above the door, and depending on the position a totally different outer world appears – rewatching the movie recently, i thought this really relates to my situation :D // me, standing in my limited space and switching the mindset.
When i am drawing on a series, i am fully committed to the process. occasionally i will not even go outside ( for days :O ), because i do not want the flow to be disturbed.
On the other hand, i am getting better in keeping a healthy balance, with good nutrition and outdoor activities – in daylight.
Furthermore a break can be very benefiting for the work, also depending on what kind of piece/series i am working on. it also happens paint has to dry, or my right arm needs a rest. in the current period of my life, i often rather feel to connect with nature and solitude – i like taking walks and love riding my bike, especially on the Tempelhofer Feld, the old airport,
which is now a big park and has a rich animal wildlife directly in the city. you can meet the fox, see the falcon hunt, meet Batman and owls or my favorites, the swifts circling the air in sublime magic – but also striving through the urban areas of Berlin and for example absorb crowded and ambivalent places like Hermann Platz or Kotti can give me impulses to my work.
the city has a lot of contrasts, switching districts can be like moving from an alpha ville to an urban jungle,
and sometimes it feels like part of the citizens are rather undead persons wandering the corridors and dwelling in the streets. these dynamics influence my work a lot.
So, back to my workspace and atmosphere – the most productive periods i have in the morning,
or in the night/late night/next morning ( here goes my work-life- balance...) ,
Then this single room transforms into a spaceship, and time transcends – yay! But the switch above the magic door can also turn and the space morphs into a cage, a dim room with windows just to the backyard, ( and everyday another neighbor gets on your nerves ) – then it is a mixture of Park Chan-wook’s ‘Oldboy' and Polanski’s 'The Tenant' :D – in these moments i miss having a studio, a way out, an island...
But, good news!, currently i am on the hunt, i think the time for a new studio space has come. Working on a bigger scale also makes this move necessary, and i am fortunate that i will find a space and with the right settings for my creations.
Give our audience some insight on who these characters are? What influences helped shape your imagination and authentic style?
Not an easy question, and also hard to pick something.
but let’s stay with the movies – as a kid i watched a lot of anime, and i guess it became an addiction. lol :D
Can you imagine the times before the streaming sites or worldwide amazon?,
you really had to dig for releases and be on quest for non- mainstream, but sub-cultural and independent publications.
For example, back in the days, i discovered Studio Ghibli by chance. i went to a screening of the independent cultural cinema in my hometown, Lübeck. In Germany we call these small cinemas KoKi, which is the short for Kommunales Kino,
which means communal cinema. They show experimental, b/w, silent-, arthouse movies and all that cool stuff. The announcement was just a small note in the local newspaper, saying something like: »animation movie from japan«, that was all and i had no idea, which impact the evening would have on me. so, i went there and saw my first Ghibli movie on a quite big screen. It was 'Princess Mononoke’ and i was delighted and in love afterwards. the next day i began to search for previous releases, and there was so much to discover.
/btw, currently i am amazed by works of Masaaki Yuasa – have you seen ‘Kaiba’?
that’s the next level.
Another thing which comes to my mind – while studying design,
i realized that somehow we all consume the same inputs:
what is published in the contemporary mags/websites and the hyped works.
So, if we eat all the same stuff, i guess this could be a reason why our shit has kind of similar color, or?
so, searching for inspiration, i biked to the woods and took in nature’s magic, or went to the public libary – so cool, they had short stories by Otomo and other out of stock comics. I also frequently explored antiquarian bookstores. Once i found a book of japanese poster design, showing works from 1912 to 1980 – that was treasure in visual aesthetics. Besides this, i guess i am cultivated by the european masters of draftsmanship,
also street art and graffiti writing made an impact on me. of course fine art/urban art, I love photography, especially in b/w. haha, where to end, where to begin... infinite...
let’s stop here. This was a small insight into my visual past.
I guess you will find a subtle mixture of all kinds of elements in my works and abstract-figurative compositions.
What do you do when you aren’t painting? Any other hobbies or vices you can’t live without?
I love to workout and ride my bike, i am learning handstand, practise qigong, read comics/books, listen to jazz and electronic music, enjoy getting better at vegan cooking – and watch movies.
Can you remember the first time you picked up a paintbrush? When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
No, but luckily my mom kept drawings from my early days. looks like i always enjoyed drawing a lot.
and yes, there was a period when i felt that i should become an artist...but it took kind of a detour until i fully catch that train.
wait, maybe it is more like a cat bus, or mad bus. :D
How has it been working with Prjct OMNi for this installation in Northern Michigan? What made you decide to work with our platform?
Up to here everything is cool, and i am excited to be part of the project.
how we met? – on tumblr and/or instagram i guess.
a comment, a chat, a vision, things began to roll, i liked how you/Chris curate the works, and that there was a personal approach perceptible.
on the Prjct OMNi website Chris says:
"I want collectors to understand the way of life that shapes the artwork, not just the artwork itself.«"
I find this a very interesting aspect, especially looking also at the internet and social media. We live in times where the surface, the loud visual image dominates the communication channels. Although these channels open great opportunities for us artists, often artwork is reduced to decoration, style or its viral bomb factor. But is this all? can meaning be transported just by a peek on your smartphone?
I am not publishing on every platform, and my work is not always easy to chew. I consider my social networks as digital exhibition space, and have the will and persistence to find my own audience. Furthermore i strongly believe in the right connections which evolve out of one's own way. Until now, most supporters and also collectors came from my own networks. They find me, or you could also say often we find 'us’ – and follow the journey. When someone purchases an artwork or art book published by me, they know they have an item from – not only my own, but ‘our' way. it is a way of mutual inspiration. I create and someone finds meaning, and because of the response of my audience/network i get inspiration back.
i think because of this interest and attention, they also understand developments and aspects of my work, which are not always visible at first sight and in a glimpse on a screen. To put a balance in this fight of surface and meaning, we artists also need strong curators who understand our work, and who are motivated to illuminate greytones, concepts and aspects of our background to a new audience. As mentioned i could sense this dedication by Prjct OMNi and joined the adventure.
Chris also asked if I have any questions?
so, man –
How did you discovered my work?
I discovered your work on Tumblr ( of all places), years ago actually; 3 to be exact. It was the presentation that first struck me. As I continued on my journey, filled with curiosity and a sincere feeling of authenticity, your work helped me imagine. It helped me visually experience something entirely new. Your creations, ( some simple/ some complex ) have a hold on the viewer. I imagine these micro/macro being or abstract entities. The biggest and most important part of your work is that I can feel the mindfulness and technique you've worked hard at mastering. Ever line you create seems to come from a high level of intention.
What made you follow and do so continuously?
Like every artist I admire, I look for growth and wish to join the journey they've embarked on. You just so happen to be one of the few I truly respect and admire. You inspire me, Mr. Engelsmann!
Why are you motivated to bring my creations to other people?
I've seem to come across a nice collection of artists who all wish to spread a similar dialog when we talk about art and culture, or both in the same sentence. Sometimes words just can't get us over that threshold. I'm imaging a thin fabric that divides what we are use to seeing, hearing and what have you; to what we have yet to imagine and are able to perceive in our imaginations. That's why I believe abstract work ( that is studied and seasoned ) is so important to creativity.
I simply think you have the power to change the way people imagine on some scale.
BACK TO THE REMAINDER OF THE INTERVIEW NOW! :D
Do you have a selection of pieces you would never sell? A private catalog that you will enjoy throughout your lifetime?
I guess so, but i am not totally sure about this. All my works are personal and part of my journey, but some works have this category you talk about. I think this would also depend on the person, who is interested in the artwork.
What do you want to happen to your work once life is said and done? How would you like to be remembered?
how about – i want to reach a position in art history, were these thoughts are processed by people who call themselves academics. ;P
Anything else you would like to leave say before we part?
and eat (more) vegan.