With wavy, flowing streams of colour, Christoph Schrein’s work takes the viewer into a new realm of time and space. The artist creates shapes that reflect light and float through the air like metallic veils, winding around and overlaying each other in zero gravity. The abstract acrylic glass paintings from the series TARA call forth the complex illusion of spatial depth, creating new spheres beyond the existing reality. Schrein lets viewers discover the sculptural creations from different perspectives; his work offers a chance to pause and reflect.
Using a special brush technique, the artist applies oils to both sides of the acrylic. Traces of the artist are barely visible in the works themselves. These monochrome pictures appear to originate from within, the otherworldly matter consisting of shimmering, nuanced colours has taken on a life of its own. There is no beginning and no end, there is no subtle message – these veils of colour move weightlessly on a metaphysical plane beyond the realm of stigmatizing discussion.
In his artistic creations, Christoph Schrein always strives for unity and to depict an inner necessity, so that the paintings “divulge and reveal [his] innermost feelings.” He succeeds in creating an ancient and sublime form of matter with gentle waves and gleaming reflections; a material so precious its origins feel more extra-terrestrial than human.
Christoph Schrein studied painting at Kunststation Kleinsassen and at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Enschede, Netherlands. After exploring the space between sculpture and painting, the artist then dedicated himself to abstract painting and developed his own unmistakable imagery. Schrein has featured in numerous exhibitions, including the art fair KUBOSHOW. He lives in Leipzig, Germany.
Tell us a bit about your work.
I am drawn to exploring of new forms of representation, experimenting with materials, and pushing the boundaries of the medium of painting.
In my paintings, the visual space appears to be moving fluidly. By layering wave shaped streams of color, I establish a complex illusion of spatial depth. Just for this purpose, I developed a special technique in which I paint on both sides of acrylic glass. The layer of glass between the two painted surfaces actually becomes part of the illusion of depth and strengthens the picture’s three-dimensional appearance. A body of light comes into existence, seeming to emanate from within the painting itself.
My paintings should give viewers the opportunity to get lost in what they see. To slow down and find a moment of contemplation in the light, color and space. The subjective experience and the dialogue between the viewer and the picture come to the fore.
In order to create the finely lined shapes and movement, my process involves working with self-made, large-format brushes and squeegees with various properties. Developing the composition is a progression to the core of the image. You have to let go, but also concentrate on evaluating every step of the process. I look for the picture’s inner necessity, the life inside it, something that comes into existence and cannot be imaginary. That moment is what drives me, and it always amazes me when I stand before a finished piece, and it is even greater than I imagined.
Who or what inspires you?
During my college years, Anish Kapoor’s work already had a strong influence on me. It still does to this day. His work develops a tractor beam effect that you cannot escape from. It moves at the limits of our perception and contains references to greater contexts. In his work, the metaphysical polarity of presence and absence sets off an evocative process that touches on locations and experiences firmly entrenched in our subconscious. This inspires a series of questions about personal experience and existence.
How does your hometown influence your work?
Leipzig is a city of painters. There is an abundance of high-caliber artistic painting here, and not just because of the Leipzig School. Existing institutions like galleries, museums, and studios feed into this potential. It is very enriching to always have the chance to see interesting contemporary art and renowned classics.
However, I find that the general attitude of the people here is much more important to the work. Leipzig is a place of openness, hospitality, and tolerance. You quickly find a place and are accepted. After a couple visits, you are practically already a Leipziger!
Where do you find inspiration while traveling?
My travel destinations are often correlate to certain exhibitions I want to see, such as Olafur Elliason’s The Weather Project at the Tate Modern in London or William Kendridge in San Francisco.
Mostly however, I plan trips to discover specific natural wonders. I want to capture the experience and the light. I also want to explore the atmosphere, spatial dimensions and natural proceedings. Most often, I create sketches and photographs that serve as the foundation for new pieces. My experiences from adventures in the Himalayas and Great Barrier Reef truly inspire me to transmit the sensory experience of something so exalted and incredible in the artificial space of the picture.
Antelope Canyon in Arizona is next on my itinerary. There, erosion has created a place where time is visible. In a way, it is kind of like a mirror of my artistic work.