SS Exclusive Interview: Stefan Strumbel

SS Exclusive Interview: Stefan Strumbel

If you haven’t heard of Stefan Strumbel you should check the batteries in your Cuckoo Clock. This amazing artist does it all…From graffiti writing, to neon sculptures, all the way to incredibly eye catching objects d’art in the form of clocks.  Upon seeing one of these cuckoo clock artworks, it is clear that Strumbel’s pieces are far from the average clock- as they instantly become the centerpiece of any room with their bold colours and extravagant ornaments.  It is for all of these reasons that we are delighted to have Stefan’s artwork on the StolenSpace walls for the first time in our group show ‘VII.’  In order to welcome Stefan to the gallery, we thought it would be fabulous to introduce the artist to our readers and ask him some questions about his style, practice…and most importantly..what the fuck is heimat?

SS: Your artwork has a clear connection to the aesthetics of graffiti: with bright colours and bold forms.  However, graffiti work is generally two dimensional…how do you transition from graffiti style painting to working with sculpture and neon as media?  Do you still feel there are any similarities?

Strumbel: I came to fine art trough graffiti writing. Writing was my steppingstone for where I am now. But I must say what I am doing today has nothing to do with graffiti, graffiti is illegal and happening on trains. But it is true that you can see my artistic roots in the broad usage of the spray cans and I still love it to bring color in the public spaces of our grey world. I think you can reach ways more people by using media collabs and city walls than in the white cube. I’ m not fixed on any media, I try to express what I feel…, maybe the best way to so today is the usage of neon and the spray can, tomorrow maybe it will be stones and water.

SS: You choose to work with extremely vibrant, neon colours.  These unnaturally bright colours would not be found in traditional handmade clocks.  What do these unorthodox colours bring to your piece…How do they alter the context of this specific object?

Strumbel: My choice of colors creates loudness as some things in life need more noise to be seen, felt or discovered. I use those colors to wake up the observer. I want a large art audience to get in dialogue with my statements on a superficial level first to find entry into the more conceptional statements of my work. Also I want to recontextualize traditional symbolism. I’ m creating my very own language.

SS: The concept of ‘Heimat’ features strongly in your work.  It is a particularly German term with no English equivalent, but I understand it as a very strong, positive connection to your ancestry and home environment in the Black Forest.  Cuckoo clocks are very traditional objects, but can you explain a little bit more about what these sculptures symbolize to you and your homeland?

Strumbel: The cuckoo clock is the perfect readymade object for me. Like for Warhol the Campbell soup. My objects are first of all vehicles. Through the modification of traditional symbolism I want to send the observer of the art works on his very own mental home trip. “What means home for me?” Where ever he is coming from… even from countries where the term of Heimat doesn’ t exist: Every single human has his own idea of Heimat. So this concept can be omnipresent in all minds of the world. A process of consciousness for your own peace, which I want to push through my work.

SS: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, head designer and creative director of Chanel and Fendi, as he is one of your most notable collectors.  How did this relationship come about? Do you think your artwork appeals more to his German roots or his appreciation for design and style?

Strumbel: Karl posed for several publications with one of my clock sculptures. He owns one, which is hanging in his library in Paris. Karl is a German from Hamburg which is based in Paris since 50 years I guess. For a person like him who is constantly on the road I think “Heimat” is an important question.

To see Stefan Strumbel’s piece on display at StolenSpace now, click here:

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