the acoustics of paint
“The first years in art school - well, I wasn't really paying attention to them, to be honest. I always rented my own studios and was already making exhibitions with my stuff in off-space galleries. I wasn't sure if I should go more in a musical or visual direction, but then painting became the thing which fascinated me the most and paid my bills, so I decided to concentrate on that. I had three professors which were all very different. As soon as I finished, one exhibition followed the other...“
Paint and sound might open completely different doors to our sensory persona, but there certainly is a weird kind of love and relational affinity between painting and music, since the best examples from both fields share the ability to overpower us with an almost irrational whirlwind of indentations. And the paintings and installations of Berlin-based Christian Achenbach seem to explode at exactly that cutting point. Having played in bands in the past - and still a connoisseur of the occasional jam session - Achenbach clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, and works at the crossroads where sight, sound, colour and shape meet. Imagine Georges Braque being the in-house designer in Mo’ Wax’s golden days and you’re halfway there. Between the finissage of his celebrated “Acupalco“ exhibition at Berlin’s Sexauer Gallery and preparing for shows in New York and Italy next year, he still found some time for a quick Q&A with Lodown.
A lot of artists from our generation take major inspiration and influences from pop culture and street art... you on the other hand seem to be more interested in your very own interpretation of Cubism and Op-Art, right?
Yes, that’s true... I take more inspiration from art history, especially from the development of modernism, than from graffiti or street art. I open all different drawers from it and take out whatever interests me: Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism... whatever. For me it gets most exciting when I mix things together which are the most opposite of each other, like geometrics and Expressionism. Most aesthetics in pop culture have their roots in art history anyway, you just need a certain understanding to notice them.
I personally think that the very majority of contemporary art is most definitely influenced by music in one way or another... were you surprised that people put this particular kinship so much in the spotlight when it comes to your work?
I totally agree, the connection between art and music is a basis which has always been there, and of course the connection in my work is very obvious. I’m a big vinyl junkie and I expect similar things from a good painting that I would expect from a good song. It has to have a certain level of intensity, and even if it’s easy enough to be understood right away, it should have a depth which allows one to pay attention to it over and over again. I use a lot of elements, which one could describe as rhythmical - such as syncopated structures and patterns. Actually I still have a drum set in my studio and make music with friends. The biggest difference is that if you work on a painting until late at night, and come back to the studio the next morning it’s still exactly the same while the music is gone...
Please tell me a bit about your Copenhagen connection... it seems as if you received a lot of love especially from Denmark lately.
My Copenhagen connection goes back to 2008. I was the artist in residence in Copenhagen for six months in a beautiful studio. At one point, a great Danish collector came by and fell in love with my work. He bought a piece and was so kind to tell all his collector friends... and two weeks later I was completely sold out. I’m working with LARM Gallery in Copenhagen and recently had a big exhibition containing 35 paintings and some sculptures from the last four years showing in two Danish museums. So, yeah, Copenhagen is a great city. Nice food, as well.