2. Platz  |  Kunstwettbewerb der mSE Kunsthalle Unterammergau

2nd place | Art competition of the mSE Kunsthalle Unterammergau

With the competition "THE HUMAN BODY" the mSE Kunsthalle gives rigorous artists a public space and with this competition brings current works - from the areas of painting, sculpture, photography and drawing - by contemporary artists from the region to the public.

A shortlist of the jury could be viewed in advance on the mSE Kunsthalle homepage. It was definitely worth a visit to discover exciting works by regional artists.

I am happy for my fellow artists , whose works were also among the first three winners:

First place: Monika Supe, with her work “Exuvia 4” from 2015

Second place: Klaus Soppe with the work “Mutiger Junge”, from 2017

Third place: Stefan Hauser with the lime wood sculpture “Untitled” from 2017

Thanks to the professional team at the mse-kunsthalle for the opportunity to be present publicly during the Corona period!


Press report from the Garmisch Tagblatt:
>> 3 out of several 100

mSE Kunsthalle open – works from the competition can be seen

Unterammergau - Sesame, open up: After the lockdown, the treasures of the mSE Kunsthalle in Unterammergau can now be marveled at again. In addition to the sculpture garden with works by, among others, Lais Anvidalfarei and Giuseppe Spagnulo as well as the exhibition “KAIROS. The Right Moment” about the unseen in European art history, visitors can expect the winning works of the regional competition “The Human Body”. During the first lockdown last year, all artists in the region were asked to send in photos of their works on the subject of the human body. In October, the winners were awarded and their pieces were presented in the foyer. “We were very happy about the many submissions,” says Dr. Andreas Klement, director of the art gallery. “There were several hundred.” What was particularly impressive was the quality and diversity of the artistic positions. Monika Supe took first place with her work “Exuvia 4” (2015). The oil painting “Brave Boy” (2017) by the painter Klaus Soppe took second place, while Stefan Hauser took third place for an untitled sculpture made of lime wood (2017). The works are currently on display for an indefinite period of time. “We hope that we will soon be able to invite the artists and a broad audience to join us and maintain a good exchange with local artists and those interested in art,” says Klement. mas/eb <<


Interview by Andreas Pawlitschko with Klaus Soppe, 2020 >>

The theme of the art competition is the human body. Is it a central theme in your oeuvre?
No, not as such. Of course, in my opinion, the human body remains a central role in art. But it is not necessary to give this a prominent space in artistic expression. Even in its visible and tangible absence, a body (or a person) can be present with the viewer. In my opinion, the brave boy's counterpart is present for the viewer. He recognizes or “feels” a second person present in this picture.
A human body – and its condition – can also be present alone in a portrait. The portrait series “Münchner Stadtstreicher”, created between 1991 and 1992, shows nine people who were affected by homelessness. For me, their faces reflect the whole person.
Two pictures that have made a lasting impression on me are Vincent van Gogh's still life with a pair of old shoes and the empty chair with a pipe and tobacco. In both pictures I feel the presence of the painter. And in the case of the picture with an empty chair, his loneliness and perhaps his deep desire for a friend or a companion are particularly strong.

It often seems as if one could grasp your works at first glance in terms of their choice of motif and manner of representation: immediate, clear, extremely clear. If you look at the pictures for a longer period of time, a motif like the brave boy who stands up to the viewer from the bottom of the painting becomes puzzling enough. Likewise, it is the (excessive) clarity of the color contrast that stuns and confuses the eye. Can we put it this way: your work as an irritation of clarity ?
Oh, a nice term and you're welcome to say it like that. If it feels that way, I'm happy. Especially with the picture “Brave Boy” it seemed important to me that this feeling was clearly expressed. It's a childhood memory and the boy in the picture is a real person. Not myself.
Yes, it is intended to disturb the viewer and make him think about why a little boy is threatening you with a large knife in his hand. Why does a child end up in such a situation that forces him to react like this, and who is responsible for it? I think it's not the boy to fear as a viewer and I think there are too many children in a similar situation.


Colors have a special meaning in your work. What type is this meaning for you: symbolic, emotional, subjective-associative, physiological, ...?

First and foremost, I would like to further explore the interaction of colors in an image. So far this is old hat and Johannes Itten did this to perfection at the beginning of the last century and, among other things, defined the seven contrasts in vision, such as the complementary contrast and the simultaneous contrast - contrasts that particularly concerned the painters of classical modernism. These painters all wanted to get out of the old academic stuff and into the light of free painting and to reproduce the atmospherics in the air and landscape in their pictures. The pointillists - neo-impressonists -, above all Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, also summarized their technique in an analytical system and a structured approach and thus created, among other things, the "optical mixture" of colors on the canvas by clearly delimiting two primary or secondary colors were placed next to each other. This dotted area only created a new mixed color or a new shade in the eye of the beholder.
In Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo, Vincent also raved about the effect of complementary colors. However, not in a dissolving grid, but in larger, side-by-side color areas, and also in the "decoration" - as Vincent called it - of his pictures, the motifs should hang next to each other in complementary contrasts.
I use complementary contrast differently in my painting by setting a line grid of two complementary colors, which creates a new color tone in the viewer's eye through optical mixing. Itten knew that mixing complementary colors always results in a warm gray. But what still emerges is a strong flickering of this complementary grid, which seems to dissolve the surface and makes it appear atmospheric and intangible. This in combination with realistic painting creates a new expression for me such as: B. in the work “Other World” from 2017 or in the small seven-part homage to Paul Cézanne “Paul’s Apples”. Here I formally take up three apple still lifes by Paul Cézanne and implement them in my complementary color painting. I love Paul Cézanne's paintings and admire that he became one of the pioneers of modern painting - by painting apples.
Only secondarily do the colors have a symbolic character for me, which I assign to my paintings depending on the motif. In this case, my painting has little that is spontaneous or expressive in the traditional sense, but I find it to be very emotional.

Her paintings emphasize optical phenomena that can be understood scientifically and physiologically, but which are very unusual for the subjective visual impression. Do you test the effect of your paintings on test subjects while they are being created or do you always rely on your own retina?
In my complementary color painting, I like to match the sensitive color gradations with my wife. Sandra has better color vision than I do, so the selection of complementary contrasts on the color boxes I created in advance does not differ greatly from one another.
A major pitfall in color vision, especially in my painting, is the color temperature of the lighting. This quickly becomes critical if the color temperature of the lighting becomes too “warm” or too “cold”, then the complementary colors appear in an undesirable light-dark contrast and the result of the effect is completely different.
In your oeuvre you have dedicated yourself to the most canonical genres in art history: portraits, nudes, landscapes and still lifes. Is there a principle behind it, a plan – or did you follow your inspiration?
There is no intention behind it, if there is, it is unconscious.
I think that I still live a very old-romantic idea of ​​art, or rather painting.


When you look at your work from the last few years or decades: Do you see a thematic development of your work or, above all, a formal development?
I think I see both in my work.
In terms of form, I feel that my works are becoming more and more detached from realism or photorealism. This is also due to the thematic development. Today I'm trying to push my experimental mix of realistic and complementary color painting further to see: What else can I make possible with colors? When I look at the different implementations in my pictures, I get the impression that this type of application and use of colors and my new technique allows me to discover a lot of surprising new painterly territory.

Thematically, I also think I see a development in my work. Especially during my studies with the pop art and Fluxus artist Robin Page, this was a recurring topic in many conversations with him. At the time I found it fascinating to explore my penchant for realism, unfortunately with little attention to the content. “Don’t try to be clever!” were my professor’s regular comments, and it took me a while to get the message.
An artist's thematic development has to do with his inner maturity, so I cannot anticipate my personal, human development process in my painting. All I can do is listen carefully to myself and pay attention to the language of my soul and thoughts and then try to transcribe these into my language of painting.
It takes a lot of courage for me to leave a technically safe path - which always brings external recognition - and take a path that I don't know where it will lead. I find it very difficult to accept other people's lack of understanding of my work. But today I find myself trying to please less and less. Or as Robin Page has often predicted to me: “You can’t get off scot-free, nobody who takes painting seriously gets off scot-free!”
You are a painter (draftsman and graphic artist). Do you also work in — or experiment with — other art genres, particularly photography and sculpture? What can photorealism do that photography cannot? What does a work gain from two-dimensionality?
Photorealism is often compared or equated with photography. I think that falls short. Technically and in terms of content, there remain two different media. It is the same with the comparison of sculpture and painting; in my opinion, every comparison fails. The special features only become apparent when you look at each medium individually. The choice of a particular medium can give an artistic statement more intensity.
Since each area contains a high degree of complexity, painting alone takes my entire interest.
If I cannot give weight to my statement in painting, I cannot do so in sculpture or photography either. Each technique in itself is a complex language that you have to learn and learn to use.
My attitude towards photography used to be rather dismissive, until many years ago when I saw an exhibition at the Hypo-Kunsthalle with works by Helmut Newton. These works fundamentally changed my attitude towards artistic photography.


One point in your biography that seems particularly noteworthy: from 1981 to 1982 you were head of the graphics department at the Bundeswehr printing works in Adenau. What was your job? What specifications did you have to follow? What did you learn from these tasks?
Some experiences in the Bundeswehr were less remarkable and are not worth mentioning. The unit I was stationed with was interesting, the PSV or Psychological Defense of the Bundeswehr. Until I moved in, which I unsuccessfully resisted, I knew nothing about such an institution.
The Bundeswehr's PSV consists of three platoons: radio platoon, printing platoon and balloon platoon. I was stationed in the printing press train and, after basic training, in the Bundeswehr printing press in Adenau. A tiny branch with a staff of around 30 people at the time, including an excellent chef and friendly security guards.
I learned a lot about offset printing, hierarchical thinking and acting, how to greet superiors correctly or collectively put one foot in front of the other and that psychological warfare actually exists, which in the Second World War consisted, among other things, of distributing leaflets with the help of weather balloons as well as the calculation of wind and climb speeds were dropped over enemy territory.
So I learned that “well” illustrated leaflets can destroy the morale of soldiers willing to fight. Provided you know your enemy!
And to anticipate a question/answer: No, this knowledge does not flow into my painting.

Her paintings all seem to have been planned with the utmost care and as the result of delicate considerations and studies. What happens before you step up to the screen? Does the preparation take longer than the actual execution or can it not be separated at all? Do you experiment on screen? And do you sometimes just feel like painting?
The desire to start painting often comes over me, but I rarely like the result.
Many of my pictures are first created in my head and in my gut, so I often paint in my imagination. When the first mental images come into my consciousness again and again, I make my first drawings in the sketchbook. Here I can see my ideas for the first time and decide whether I want to transport them into a painting.
Once the sketch is complete, it's time to implement it. In the case of the award-winning picture “Courageous Boy,” after the first drawings, photographs had to be taken and the outfit for the “Courageous Boy” had to be obtained, which I found in the costume collection of the Bavaria Film Studios – the style, type and era of clothing were important to me.
A talented young lady was the model at the time and she also created the striking pose of the boy in the picture. My instructions for different poses, however, were worthless.
Color sketches and samples follow on a separate board, this is one of the most important moments, the colors have to match 100% otherwise the picture doesn't “work”. Only then does it go to the screen. The painting itself has nothing to do with the original photographic material, so it is just a vehicle for my painting.

The artist - that's how I imagine it - has a work-life balance that more and more people share: you work on a project basis and never really have an end to work. Do you sometimes long for a 40-hour week and a job that you can do by the book?
I long for a bed next to my easel, which means I can paint (work) at any time and consistently complete a project. That would feel like the optimal situation.
But there are many other to-dos, especially eating and maintaining social contacts, etc., that shape everyday life. My wife Sandra and I are already very close to the optimum; we are lucky that our apartment and our studio are under one roof and are only separated by a door. This means we can live our own work-life balance very flexibly.
Service means serving someone. This is a laudable thing, especially when it can serve the common good. I'm often plagued by a guilty conscience when I paint and think I'm doing something completely useless. Then I remember Robin's comment that being able to paint (art) is the greatest luxury in this world.


You share a studio with your wife Sandra Kolondam, who is a painter. What is the most important enrichment for your work from this joint (or parallel) work?
One of the many great enrichments is the certainty or experience of having a person at my side who knows, understands and shares the many peculiarities of being a painter. Sandra makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing, that painting is as important to our existence as perhaps financing a home is for other people.

What role does the viewer play in your work? What does a painting have to do to the viewer in order for you to be satisfied with the painting? And conversely, how should the viewer approach your work (e.g. with what prior knowledge, what state of mind, in what mood, in what setting)?
My opinion is that every painting is, for a viewer, primarily a mirror of himself, his own expectations, his longings, his subjective experiences that have shaped him and made him what he is, as well as his current state of mind while viewing of an image.
The requirement of a specific setting is also not a necessity for me - apart from the lighting of the paintings - although I occasionally wish that the effect of my paintings required a similar requirement to the series of experiments by Prof. Timothy Leary.
So I don't have any expectations of the viewer or make any assumptions; it would be an almost impossible task for me to meet such demands in the implementation of a painting.
Or from the other side, I find myself unable to paint a picture that evokes the same feeling or realization or evaluation etc. in all viewers.

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