German Artist Kai Schiemenz uses art to pose social questions about space and architecture, and our relationship within them. Working with a range of mediums; from computer graphics, installations, and sculpture – the artist subverts our customary ways of seeing. Browsing at Art basel Hong Kong, the Hausie team was struck by the colourful and powerful presence of a sculpture by Schiemenz. The piece, titled “Säule I” was deceptively made of glass, despite it’s frosty matt surface. Much like the artist himself, there is more than what we see on the surface.

Säule I| Blocks X | Photography by Galerie EIGEN+ART

Kai Schiemenz was born in 1966, East Germany. The artist was surrounded by artistic people as a child. His parent’s home often had guests, one of which Kai remembers fondly; “he was a pig farmer – in his spare time he did painting, woodcuts, sculptures … He painted great landscapes and portraits, very personal, very moving. He looked like a little Van Gogh to me” (Schiemenz, 2016). Despite having no artistic education, the intensity and diligence behind the farmer’s self taught art inspired Schiemenz and left a positive and lasting impression of what art should be.

Kai Schiemenz | Photography by Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg

 Schiemenz was 24 when he began studying art; exactly a year after the Berlin Wall fell. Speaking with Hausie, the artist reflects upon that time where “everything changed”. The artists he knew of before worked for the government institutions of East Germany. Following the dismantling of the wall, these artists disappeared “to live in oblivion” (Schiemenz, 2016). Commenting on the art environment then, Schiemenz said “It is a strange feeling, when you grow up with names of artists and their work and when the system breaks, they are lost.” Schiemenz adapted to this new environment and absorbed what he could learn from the new artists around him like a sponge.

Kai Schiemenz | Photography by Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg

One look at Schiemenz’s work and you can see some architectural and constructivism influence. Be it installation or model; there is a clear narrative of space. Not one of his sculptures are the same. Speaking of architecture, Schiemenz feels he is much more influenced by the structures he saw as a child than in adulthood.  Trips to Czech exposed him to amazing architecture from the 10th and 20th century; whom he later discovered were works by Jaroslav Fragner and Josef Chochol. There is a omnipotent aura to these structures, that can be felt similarly through Schiemenz’s work.

Jaroslav Fragner Gallery, Prague | Photography by Jaroslav Fragner Gallery

There is a deeper narrative behind the work “Säule I” than expected. Before the artist moved onto sculpture, he focussed on interactive installations whereby the viewer can explore the inside space. With sculpture, one must view from the outside. Schiemenz describes his sculptures as “like a person”. From afar you can see its material and how its been cut. But the more you recognise the details, the less you understand as a whole. The artist calls this “the gap” and relishes it.kschiemenz_cloaked_debris_iii_22

Cloaked Debris III | Photography by Galerie EIGEN+ART

“The absent part of the work is the important part – What you have to fill with your own imagination.”

These days, glass is  the artist’s material of choice, and his use of colour within it is exquisite. Clever and intuitive; the schemes presented in his work are a breath of fresh air in the sometimes dull monochromatic sculpture scene.  He describes his colour process as a bit alchemistic. “To choose colour for glass sculpture it is like tapping in the dark”, as the material can transform so easily when moulding. Previously having worked with paper, bronze, and digital mediums, Schiemenz enjoys glass for it’s satisfying production and ever changing nuances. From sketch, to silicon model, to plaster mould, cold production, grinding and processing – many unknown variables can occur. The artist takes pleasure in this challenge, and finds it adds to his work.

Big Four Colours | Wings of Colour | Photography by Galerie EIGEN+ART

Mistakes animate the sculpture and bring the sculpture to life.”

With special thanks to Kai Schiemenz for his artistic insight and personal comments.

Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin.

Written by Sonia Wan

Edited by Christina Wright

ARCHITEKTUR AUSSTELLUNGEN DEUTSCHLAND (2016) Jaroslav Fragner Gallery Prag [Online] [Accessed 01/06/2016]

Art Basel (2016) Kai Schiemenz [Online] [Accessed 01/06/2016]

EIGEN+ART (2016)Kai Schiemenz [Online] [Accessed 01/06/2016]