Early in the morning we left Berlin in our rental car heading to Leipzig. The sun in our eyes, we left to meet Marian Luft (1983) in what was called “the city of heroes” after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Marian‘s studio is in a factory located several kilometres from the city centre and it was over coffee prepared on a Bunsen burner and surrounded by his latest creations that we got to know him.
Arriving from Berlin 12 years ago to continue his studies, Marian discovered in Leipzig a level of creative liberty that led him to stay there.
His studio is just a few steps from the Spinnerei, a disused former spinning plant reconverted into an art quarter with numerous galleries, shops and studios.
What I love about Leipzig is that as a young artist you can do just about whatever you want without pressure from the outside world...
Leipzig in fact has welcomed numerous artists and is known for its vibrant art scene. The city is a sort of laboratory full of alternative spaces where an avant-garde scene is emerging.
You could rent an artist for a certain time and the artist had to produce sometime during that time. The work was then sold at auction.
Marian studied at the HGB (the Leipziger Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) where he studied contemporary photography.
The HGB is a very open-minded academy where I discovered very conceptual and minimalist photography.
Digital Native Artist
Marian finds his principal source of inspiration on the internet where he spends most of his time in his creative process. He scours the social networks, the on-line video sites and the other platforms and he accumulates thousands of images, photos, drawings and logos. Marian is almost obsessional in collecting all of these symbols and he then gives them life in compositions of a troubling organised chaos.
He can spend up to 4 weeks at his desk accumulating all sorts of images before returning to the studio to do tests and to contact his various partners. He works in particular with a printing house in Leipzig specialised in Fine Art which allows him to have access to the machines during the numerous tests necessary for the final result.
It's an exception because normally they don't let you do crazy things like that!
Marian very carefully unwraps the work “No No No (High Five for Low Life)” and tells us, laughing:
It's incredible what you have to do in order for something so ugly not to become even more ugly.
The result is stunning, the symbols and the drawings are mixed together in order to provoke a sort of mental confusion. The sense of being in a delirious fever state is all the more accentuated by the printing technique. The images are as if printed on a sheet of ice cut with sharp edges.
Because, you know, it's supposed to make you taller...
Museum der bildenden Künste
Still in the company of the artist, we travelled to the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig where two of his works are exhibited.
We directly attacked the upper floors of the museum, where contemporary art is side–by–side with the paintings of the masters, and we penetrate the room where Marian’s work “Adolescent Fantasies (Meerkat)” is exhibited with the painting “Der rassende Roland” by the Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901). This is an audacious staging decided jointly by the artist and the Museum. The two works, placed a few centimetres from each other, regard each other from the corner of the eye. The effect is successful and the symbols of both works echo each other from a distance of nearly a century.
We finish our visit with a shared moment over the Tumblr work, a sort of altar of the digital age.
I made this at a time when I was hooked on Tumblr and I was recording all of the PNG’s that I could find.
This work was made from 10,000 photos, logos, drawings and symbols that Marian, in a sort of meditative state close, assembled in the manner of a composition. The play of the LED lighting placed behind uncovers for the spectators the multiple combinations of the work and accentuates this continual flow of images.
Everything you see on the internet, Tumblr, Instagram and the others makes you forget your own dreams and fantasies which are formatted by the flow of beautiful images and logos...