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David Sprenger

Artist Spotlight

As humans we are constantly dealing with other humans, thinking humanly, having human concerns, and setting human priorities when we think and act. How about taking a break?

Enigmatic objects, empty apartments and barren landscapes are recurring motifs in David Sprenger’s captivating acrylic paintings. Combining elements of both Surrealism and Minimalism, he conjures up dream-like worlds that draw the viewer in and make them wonder. The self-taught artist was born in Liechtenstein and currently resides in Bogota, Colombia, where he takes inspiration from elements of the city he encounters in everyday life.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST


Q. What made you decide to become an artist?

A. Pursuing painting was only a logical step for me. Like many others, I loved to paint and draw as a child. At school, I often sat at the window and lost myself in daydreams, which I would then sketch out. This did not remain hidden from certain teachers. Finally, in 2015, a friend who was a painter inspired me to try and tackle this art myself.

Q. One could say your works emanate a certain gloomy atmosphere, would you agree? Is this something you intentionally try to evoke?

A. Maybe I painted too many laughing suns when I was a child and now I choose to compensate in this way. Joking aside - I think many of my paintings are reduced to a very minimal design and/or contain strange elements that are not easy to assign to the environments we are familiar with. In some cases, one may, as a viewer, feel perhaps a little lost or perplexed in such a scenery. In the best case, one's interest in what is shown is aroused and one begins to explore, puzzle and study.

Q. Your works sometimes seem to be part of a scene or a 'stage' where the human subjects are just left. Is there a narrative component to your work?

A. That is correct. You could say that each of my paintings is a kind of stage without actors. Often these are empty stretches of wasteland. Because of their hostile sterility, the viewer's attention is automatically focused on the main subject: the object (or a group of objects), which is staged and highlighted as the focal point by means of well-considered perspectives and shadows. 

I want to avoid unnecessary distractions from the main subject as much as possible. In addition, as humans we are constantly dealing with other humans, thinking humanly, having human concerns, and setting human priorities when we think and act. How about taking a break? I create worlds without humans (one exception is "The Final Dinner"). But even my art can't do without people. It needs at least two: 1. the creator and 2. the viewer.

Nevertheless, I often paint things that might suggest the presence of people. For example, buildings or scenes at a window. Living things also show up in the form of wild plants, which repeatedly play an important role in my paintings. I also find smoke and fire fascinating, dynamic elements.

Q. Where do you find inspiration for some of your more outlandish, almost alienesque constructs?

A. Ideas come from all kinds of places and situations. Be it during a walk in the park or in the waiting room of some office. Often, these are incomplete, abstract fragments, which then gradually become more complete. The final result can vastly deviate from the original idea.

Of course, I am also inspired by numerous works of great masters. Nevertheless, I try to follow my own style and personal concepts. Metaphysics and questions on the topics of the senses, architecture and statics are things that fascinate me and which constantly find their way into my paintings. These strange geometric constructions are the result of this continuous investigation.

Q. Could you take us through your artistic process?

A. When observing landscapes or buildings in daily life, I often get ideas for my paintings. Certain perspectives, shadows that are cast at a specific time of day, the weather or the season, and unusual or interesting structural details, all make up excellent raw material.

I then create a small, rough model on paper and transfer the draft onto the canvas with rulers and pencil. Now the most beautiful part of the work begins: masking the shape with adhesive tape, colouring and then peeling off the tape. Bit by bit the overall picture builds up, revealing new impressions every time. The end result will almost never be exactly as it was initially planned. Sober work planning meets spontaneous improvisation for me.

Q. Which other creatives inspire you?

A. On the one hand, I am interested in old surrealist masters like Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Yves Tanguy or Kay Sage. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the straightforwardness of minimalism and its many subcategories. You could perhaps say that I try to bring elements of both surrealism and minimalism into my work.

Q. How do you navigate this field of tension between minimalism and surrealism?

A. Minimalism and surrealism are for me something like body and consciousness, analogous to the nature of any living being. For me, minimalism is beautiful because it strips away everything "superfluous", such as deceptive facades or opulent embellishments. It shows things as they are in the aggregate. This is my personal definition of aesthetics. 

The surreal element, on the other hand, brings a certain momentum to the minimalist body. It can be subconscious or superconscious, dreamlike, superstitious, or even contradictory. So in my work, the minimalist provides the material structure and the surreal controls the behaviour, or the effect of what is shown. However, I think that I do not work with classical minimalism or surrealism as such, but only use qualities and gradations of these styles and combine them to form hybrids.


Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?

A. I would not want to "dictate" the viewer's thoughts. 

If my work stimulates the viewer to reflect, wonder and ponder, then the painting will have fulfilled its purpose.

Q. What do you think are some of the challenges facing artists today?

A. We live in a time of galloping change, not least thanks to advancing digitization. Personally, I think this is a good thing. It has never been easier to present your art to a broad audience. At the same time, it is perhaps becoming increasingly difficult to sell one's art, because the selection of artworks online is dizzying and growing relentlessly. In order not to drown in the ocean of the art market, it is advisable to keep some rules in mind:

  • Work in a disciplined and consistent manner
  • Develop your own recognizable style
  • Be patient and never get discouraged
  • A strong partner, like Return on Art, is very helpful in a variety of ways
  • Without joy and enthusiasm for the work, it will not work in the long run

Q. Could you describe your work in 3 words?

A. Strange - Deep - Scenic

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