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In the studio with Stefan Gunnesch

The following interview excerpt forms part of our Fall-Winter ’21 issue.

Interview by Aleix Moyano

We sneak into  Stefan Gunnesch’s studio (@stefan_gunnesch) in Leipzig to talk about his creative process, career and to unveil some of his new work. Gunnesch is an artist that doesn’t like to set barriers to his work, describing himself as a “visual border crosser” Stefan loves exploring and getting lost in the making of new artworks. It’s precisely for that reason that his collages are more like stories in themselves – beautiful, sexy, and poetic, capable of amusing any spectator. We invite you to find more about Gunnesch’s work on Instagram (@stefan_gunnesch or www.bildschriftlich.de) but for now, let him introduce himself…

VT     Who is Stefan Gunnesch, and how would you describe yourself?

I see myself as a visual border crosser, a perfectionist, a creator, and seeker but also a sensual dreamer and storyteller. Following my studies in communicative arts, I found my passion in book design. In the process of designing the books, illustrations in different techniques were created and eventually led me to the collages I make today.

VT     If you were not dedicating your life to being an artist, what is another career you would have pursued?

Working with books has always inspired me and to work with texts as well. If I hadn’t taken my path as a visual artist, I might have become a writer or editor. I have a great affinity for words and the poetics of texts, so in another career, it would have been a great challenge for me to describe my thoughts and stories not in pictures, but only in words.

VT     Every artist has its own way of working, can you tell us more about your work process?

My working process is mainly determined by an intuitive approach. At first, I have an inner image or mood in my mind that guides me in selecting the photographic materials. These are mainly my own photographs, but also collaborations with other photographers. The most exciting moment for me is the direct reaction to a motif with my artistic techniques. The initial working steps involve fragmentation and destruction, which happens quite intuitively. The source motif changes, it becomes abstract. Thereby it becomes alive for me in a new way. I then cut out elements and add new fragments and structures. In this way, different layers of paper are created, which overlap each other and give my artworks a special depth. The surface and texture of the paper play a big role for me, as they symbolize the human body and the surface of the skin in my works. Often I also add elements of acrylic paint. The additional treatment of the paper surfaces with paint brings in a painterly component, which gives the portrait or body image a special movement and dynamic.

VT     Where do you find inspiration? Do you follow any parameters in order to filter your ideas?

I can find inspiration easily in different things like colors, sounds, an accidental encounter, personal memories, fashion, other artists, architecture, travel… For me personally, what inspires me are associative connections that can sometimes be completely random or nonsensical. For example, when a word picked up connects with a place, a texture or a sound. I can often remember this for many years.

The process of filtering and selecting is individual each time and begins with each new work. As soon as I start working with a concrete photograph, a creative process begins for me, a kind of approach in dialogue. I react to what is in front of me on the working table, I listen to the story it wants to tell me. At this point, I can sense which things are essential for an artwork and which are not. This intuitive process and my experience help me to filter my ideas and inspirations.

VT     Considering your art is in most cases very manual, how do you feel about the progression of technology and art created with computers? Through image editing and the preparation of prints and by creating layouts, compositions and color palettes, I’m used to developing a lot digitally. I don’t see a complete separation between…


You can read the full interview by purchasing a copy of our Fall-Winter edition HERE

The works of Stefan Gunnesch are represented by Nadia Arnold (London) and Galerie DRUCK & BUCH (Vienna).

Studio photo: Stefan Gunnesch, Oliver Viehweg | Bildschriftlich – Studio for visual arts, Leipzig

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