With a multifarious art practice that embraces painting, performances, films, installations and even art writings, Henning Strassburger (1983) is a young German artist who creatively examines the idea of painting in the age of mass media. Having indicated a great interest in abstract painting, the German painter interestingly mixes up expressionistic as well as minimalistic techniques.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
His great emphasis on the abstract process in his painting techniques and visual vocabulary, along with his personal art narratives, which have concentrated on the realm of advertising and digital culture, consist engaging forms of inspiration for his artistry. With a focus on repetition, distinctive mark-making and the notion of spatiality, Strassburger’s paintings excel on balance between the fragile coexistence of their development, the explosive character of the painted subjects and the alluring appearance of their contradictory elements. His dynamic gestures on canvas in conjunction with the seemingly, or maybe not, spontaneous pseudo-expressionistic movements investigate constructions of creativity on big canvases that provide different interpretations regarding their artistic spatial profundity.
Principally bright paint is built up with layered darker brush strokes indicating Strassburger’s direct and critical engagement with his canvases. Unprompted lines creating an art web that is applied all over the surface rendering a unique chasm; the tension between control and freedom enables his compositions to unveil as much sinister minimalism as some unexpected works with beautifully disorienting experiences. At first glance, the non-representational character of the artist’s paintings might cause a sense of misunderstanding for the viewer. Having a deeper insight though, Strassburger’s strategic marks strive to underline manifold emotions and ways of expressions rendered with elegant intensity and dynamic sensitivity.
Paintings, such as the “You are invited to my pool party.” “You don’t even have a pool.” or “Daydreams for Losers”, reflect an unsettling visual language and quality that exercises the viewer’s perception on art issues of intellectual complexity. Aiming to paint with determination, Strassburger’s paintings are born easily avoiding phases of slow and indefinite activity or endless deliberation. “I go to the studio every morning and paint the paintings that wait for me to be painted. It’s calm and concentrated” the artist himself mentions.
Born in Meissen, Henning Strassburger (1983) lives and works in Berlin. He studied at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf during 2006-2009 and his work has been internationally exhibited around the globe in several countries, such as Germany, USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and Sweden. His newest solo exhibition “Henning Strassburger: Air Conditioner” is currently taking place in Moscow at Osnova gallery until 24 June 2018. Later on, he has an upcoming show at BlainISouthern Gallery Berlin in November 2018.
In his interview with Art Verge, Henning Strassburger shares his approach on his abstract art and other art issues, while providing some very interesting insights about his daily life.
Art Vegre: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Henning Strassburger: I go to the studio every morning and paint the paintings that wait for me to be painted. It’s calm and concentrated.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
HS: Mike Kelley, Jutta Koether, Caroll Dunham. I also loved the recently published writings of David Salle (How to See), Caroll Dunham (Selected Writings) and Peter Halley (Selected Essays). I had lots of conversations about these texts, that’s where most inspiration comes from, talking to artists my age. Lately, also the musician Scott Walker had an impact on me.
AV: Creating a new painting can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
HS: No never. Basically, I have only friends who are artists, musicians or writers. My life stays in the bubble, I’m always on fire.
AV: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
HS: In the same way a musician knows when the song is over. It’s pretty clear. You wouldn’t go on singing when the band has finished.
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
HS: I’m working in a bright studio in a former town hall in East-Berlin. I never speak to anybody in the building. I just want to be friends with the grumpy elderly lady from ‚Rita’s Baguette Eck’, where I have lunch everyday. But it’s a dead issue, she is a real Berliner…
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
HS: I saw Stanley Whitney at Nordenhake Berlin today, whose last years show of drawings at Lisson Gallery NYC I liked a lot.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
HS: The Joy of Painting.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
HS: There is no deeper interest. It’s a different reality.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
HS: Morning. But I need a few coffees to start. I like when there is something ahead to come.
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
HS: First it’s full, than empty. I really never like an in between-situation.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
HS: I think I will go back to La Palma island to work in the studio there during summer for the upcoming exhibitions. Together with my friend Enver Hadzijaj I also run a project space in Berlin called „Beach Office“ and we will do some shows again this summer.We found a great new spot in a vault oft the former GDR Bank of Berlin. Instagram: Beach Office