SW: How did your present stay in Berlin influence your new works? These images of torment and passages.|
FS: I have lived in several places in recent years, but I don't know exactly how it affects me, and I don't really make art for a specific location. but when I think about it, Berlin is probably one of the cities that have suffered the most in history, and there have been many passages here, even if the Berlin wall wasn't Styx, more like Cocytus – the river of wailing. I think the feeling of anonymity is what affects me the most.
SW: Are there images that you do not dare to paint? Subjects and characters that you cannot show in public?
FS: No, I think art is an excellent tool for examining the unconscious, both mine and the collective. I have never thought that there are any forbidden images or subjects to paint; it is after all fantasies that take place in the pictures. It is up to each artist to make moral decisions, not the audience or the media, otherwise it would be very unpleasant. I feel that painting is more fictional than, say, performance art or photography, people tend to perceive these practises as more real.
SW: How do you see the interaction between your strict formal architectural images and the free more chaotic works? Is there a thought of finding a balance in the exhibition space?
FS: In recent years, I have often worked with diptychs and series. Yes, there is definitely an interaction between the different expressions, it is in the act for me, not in the narrative. It can often be the case that a geometrically structured work comes about when I have a need to control and organize the world. Like-wise, I have a need to use my body and gaze in the abstract paintings. The small geometrically composed images are also concentration exercises, like those in religious practice – icon painting, mandala images, sand paintings or whatever it may be. I reckon that I bring my world into the exhibition space but the space seldom affects how the paintings look. I like it when they carry their own soul into the room. but if I was offered a very special location, it probably could affect me and the work. The Chartres Cathedral or Buckingham Palace would be interesting to exhibit in.
SW: Are your works a response to something else?
FS: I am trying to build my own universe. I see myself as a collector, and cataloguing is an instinct I have.
I remember as a child I saw the film The Collector, it's based on a book by John Fowles. It is about an isolated man in the English countryside who collects butterflies. But that is not enough, so he begins to take an interest in a young woman studying at an art school. He manages to kidnap her and keep her as a prisoner, forcing her to sit in a cell making drawings for him. It is a strange psychological drama about obscure passions and creativity, an urge to classify and categorize the world. The film lingers in my imagination and still inspires me.
But I see my art as part of a spiritual and mystical tradition that has existed as long as we have expressed ourselves in pictures. That sounds a bit grandiose, but I don't know how to explain it in a different way. My work is a personal quest for the absolute, image – totality.
SW: What contemporary artists or artistic expressions interests you? Which other artists do you have an affinity with?
FS: It is a difficult question – if I'll be honest, I have no collective inclinations. I am interested in the history of art – as is evident in my work. The art that captivates me the most is from the early 1800s to well into the first half of the 1900s. I really like the British Arts & Craft movement, William Morris and Walter Crane. I am also fond of beautiful and rare books. But, if I'm to name a few contemporary references, I saw a very good exhibition of drawings by Joseph Beuys a week ago at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. I do not think of art in terms of here and now, a cave painting or a totem pole, a piano piece by Philip Glass, a drawing by Jo Baer can affect me – it is about energy.
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