In the Studio with Kevin Reismann

In the studio with Kevin Reismann, a contemporary visual artist whose artistic approach mainly depicts living beings in different postures and scenarios, whereby they often mix realistic and fantasized elements. We met with Kevin to tell us more about growing up in north-west Germany, the message behind his works, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?

I grew up in a small town in north-west Germany. I certainly process what I have experienced, both beautiful experiences and conflicts, from my childhood and youth in my works, although this probably happens subconsciously.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work?

In my childhood I painted a lot, whereas in my youth I wasn’t interested in painting at all, but rather in football. In art class at school, which I didn’t like at all, I didn’t get good grades because I didn’t work properly. In 2013 I started painting again with a friend in my father’s workshop. We painted two or three very abstract paintings a year, which I really enjoyed. However, the key moment in my artistic career came when I spent an Erasmus semester in Lisbon in 2016 as part of my law studies at the time. It was there my extremely talented Hungarian friend and roommate Aron inspired me to paint in such a way that I gave up my studies back in Germany and never stopped painting. The good response from those around me also gave me a lot of motivation.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? How would you describe your aesthetic? 

I would describe the aesthetics of my paintings as high-contrast, rough and polychrome. For me personally, the epitome of aesthetics is a balanced mix of opposing elements. For example, I love it when classic parts are combined with youthful ones or dark, depressing ones with friendly, beautiful parts in my paintings. In each of my works I strive to achieve this balance. I determine the criteria instinctively. They are always a reflection of my interests and the many inputs that I process every day. The choice of my materials and themes is correspondingly dynamic. Above all, I am interested in power relations, the “beauty”, abysses, expression and myths.

Who/what are your greatest influences? 

Everyday things, hip-hop and punk culture, exoticism, sports, Marlene Dumas, Harmony Korine, fashion, ancient myths, plants.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

The X-rays of my operated hip

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

I don’t consciously think of the viewer during the creative process. But I don’t think that as an artist you can completely free yourself from thinking about the external impact of your work. I want my paintings to touch the viewer in some way.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment? 

I moved in with my girlfriend three years ago, which was a turning point. A flat roof borders our balcony, which I use as a studio. This gave me new freedom and new inspiration. Although the use of the area is heavily dependent on the weather, I benefit from the natural daylight. In addition, the first participation in a group exhibition and the first major sale to a collector were incredibly beautiful and motivating events.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

I need music that can be quite stirring. For me, painting is not relaxation. Rather, I instinctively and impatiently rush through the creative process. Ideally, however, I no longer have any appointments because they can cause negative stress. Sometimes it helps my work if I’m bleary-eyed. I have the feeling that I am more sensitive then and get a different approach to the painting.