Malte Zenses is a Berlin based artist, who studies at the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Offenbach and the Academy of fine arts in Düsseldorf. His work is a constant personal reflection of places and emotions in time, playing with specially developed tags, signs and language. Sending the viewer on a journey of its own, creating a discourse between the digital and analogous as well as the real and fictional.
Hello can you please tell us a bit about your practice?
Hi. I like to play with tokens and symbols, which are sometimes easy, sometimes difficult to decode. There is not only one medium I am attracted to. My practice is a lot about the painting, installation and photography.
After having studied sculpture at the more design and graphic design oriented academy in Offenbach you went on to study painting at the fine art art academy in Düsseldorf. How would you describe these two different influences especially in regards to your work today?
J, Offenbach was always so pretentious conceptual (in a good way), a lot of discourses, criticism and reflection. Cause we also worked very closely with media sociology, the philosophy and the history of art. That shaped my practice. And Düsseldorf was way different, my professor was not the biggest fan of words. He just liked to look at the paintings for a while. He once said: „please be quiet, no words needed, let the painting talk.“ So I would think my work today is drawn from these two different teaching methods. There are a lot of references to theory, as well as a strong affection for failing and just doing it again and again.
What is the balance of personal, gestural reflection, level of conceptuality and technical hands and crafts in your eyes in your work?
For me, finding the balance is the most beautiful moment in my work. In the production process, I want to clarify that my idea / own direction and the “gesture,” comes more as the result of my practice. My everyday challenge is finding this playful balance between the gestural and the conceptual.
Most of your works take inspirations from your travels, specific locations or certain memories. In this sense one could argue, there is always an autobiographical note to your works – is art thus your tool to preserve this – an excuse of not letting go?
Tzzzz, isn’t art always autobiographical? I just can report and consolidate things if I have seen or felt them. Sure, I would say that you’ll find me and my story behind all the colours, forms and words. And I would also say that instead of preserving these experiences and memories I am actually trying my best to release them by sharing them.
Stemming from these personal inspirations; the continues fostering for inspiration and story telling – how does your production process look like?
Going to places, giving the universe a chance, breathing, pausing and trying to understand why the world works like this. There is so much to observe.
You often work with raw canvases, you help yourselves a fairly nude and soft colour palette and work with dark, mostly bold black, gestural lines. Can you please elaborate on the relation between these elements, text and other signs in your work?
The raw canvases always remind me of the ongoing process, the beauty of the beginning of the life of a thing before its developement, before manipulating and domesticating the raw material. The colour palette is just one element/moment in the evolution, like a Chameleon. It changes slowly. The bold black lines, google earth, spotting cracks in the streets— developing work from all of this is my process, I am just collecting it all and putting it back together in a different order. Sure, there is a relationship between these elements, but I don’t want to or can not give all of that away.
As discussed already, most of your works operate on a very personal, emotional, mostly geographically grounded level. How important is the architectural space of an exhibition, maybe even its geographical location and hence the way how an exhibition is presented/the works hung?
It is very important for me. While studying, my Professor always told us to reflect on architecture around us. The architecture always tells it`s own story and I got so used to thinking this way. So I do integrate architecture in the way I work and how I present my works.
How important is the medium to you? Looking through your young oeuvre one would maybe describe you as a painter, yet your background suggest the one of a sculptour and at the same time you work with photographs, and ready made as well. T
he medium is not that important but I am so impatient. The drawings, the paintings, the ready-made`s and the photography, they allow for expedited, active creation. It’s all happening, right there, in the moment. I am not good at waiting for a ceramic to dry or wood-glue to work.
One barely finds “untitled” titles for your works, words and texts reappear on your works, what relevance does the written word, language and poetry carry? Every work needs a title. Because most elements of my work are pretty abstract, for now it is super important to me to use words and fragments of texts– I think it’s my one connection to what I define as more “literal,” or real life. I will get over this in a while. Sometimes I think of my work as a riddle, in which I provide hints for deciphering. I need the language in order to create the hints.
You are currently exhibition at Salon Kennedy (read Writers Wednesday) in Frankfurt. Can you give a short inside to the works there and show in general please?
ABER. It’s a story about letting things go.
Whats next? Meeting Franz Erhard Walther in a while to figure out why he`s so cool. Working on an exhibition in London and Cologne and enjoying the spring. Watching things grow.