At tonight’s charity exhibition, „TRANSITION“ at Hotel de Rome which is held for Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun Foundation, you can meet the two participating artists Danni Pantel and Karl-Luis Vossbeck. Both recently returned from an intense enclave like work trip from New York. The enclave part was certainly not necessarily what the two had in mind and bargained for and was caused by the ice cold and extreme weather conditions. And boy, we know New York can get really freezing! In direct opposition to the temperatures outside was the stirred up energy inside their workplace. Working and living next to each other for the period of two months, preparing and producing large scale paintings for a one night pop up show without being able to leave the house might create an interesting challenge. Especially as Danni Pantel and Karl-Luis Vossbeck are an odd pairing when it comes to their personalities and works approaches as artists, yet they seem to be feeding on their artistic feuds and antithetic mindsets in a very productive way!
How did you meet in the first place?
D: We met in 2016 when we both moved into our new studios in Berlin-Pankow. We were also living there for the year before so it felt almost like being flatmates. At that time we both made our first steps in the art world by working as assistants for other artists or helping out in galleries.
It was an intense and interesting time and I was very happy to have Kalu around to share it with.
K: Yes, some other artists were also living in their studios in that building. The funny thing was that we of all people connected so well, even though our backgrounds and personalities were so contrary.
The two of you expanding on this „working together“ scenario how did that came about? Besides the obvious element of being inspired and also motivated by the person working next to you, I keep wondering isn´t it also frickin annoying and distracting?
D: It actually started right from the beginning when we were living in the same studio building. Because Kalu’s studio was quite small, he worked in my studio from time to time. For me personally, it’s never been a problem to work next to each other, because I always like to have people around me in the studio while I’m working. I just remember this one time when we had the idea to make a work together.
It wasn’t easy for me as I always tried to tidy up Kalu’s chaos.
K: Haha yes, it wasn’t easy for both of us. It was fun though.
It’s exactly how you said, it can freak you out but it’s also motivating and inspiring.
In New York we had a very good workflow, we were in the studio almost every day until late at night.
Did you experience any of the “artist in New York” cliche?
K: To me, it didn´t really felt very different. The area did, cause it was, but I never had this “artist-in-New-York-feeling”. Also, it was so cold, almost all the time we were either in the studio or at home. That may be the reason why I didn´t really have a feeling where I was. I hope that makes sense.
D: For me it felt quite similar. I think when you go to another place to work it’s a whole different thing than visiting for a short time to explore the city. I was impressed by NYC and what it has to offer culturally. I love that especially in Bushwick, where we lived, there are so many artists and that creates an interesting vibe. However, I still prefer Berlin. I just feel it is much more relaxed and down to earth here..and cheaper.
Even your works differ in their visual structures and compositions and it is very obvious you have two completely unique minds and artists, I couldn’t help it in the beginning but only perceiving your similarities?
K: Yes, that was also the concept of the show. The fight-like dance of us two and our work. Danni combined big and small lines with floating bodies of colour, and you would find those elements in my works too, just very different. Even we have these contradictions in the way we work, the paintings standing next to each other can sometimes seem to be the sibling of the other.
And what do siblings do other than fight or play with each other from time to time?
D: Yes exactly. I have no more to add here…
The sole freedom of thought, the letting loose, the element of an eclectic and untamed mind that is expressed through paint and ultimately on canvas or beyond. Is this something you share in general and that keeps the two of you swinging in the right flow together?
D: I can only answer for myself here because when Kalu and I dare to talk about our approach and our intentions we always end up fighting, haha.
For me, it is very important to work freely and intuitively.
That means I have to prepare quite carefully. I always have a lot of colours in my studio so I can decide spontaneously. Also in my movements, while painting I never know where I will go. Ideally, I would go into a kind of flow momentum where I don’t think. A moment of total freedom for me.
K: To me it’s not a state of mind I have to go in. Right from the start I just don’t know what I do, but my approach is I want to be able to do things even though I don’t necessarily know what to do. And the important thing is that it’s not about painting, I want to be able to act and react and play in every situation of my life. So for myself, I cultivated a flow that doesn’t need an idea, inspiration or what so ever to create and play around. That is the idea itself.
To always be ready to play without knowing where it leads to.
I know this is the complete opposite of the question at the beginning of this conversation, but then I guess you both are aware of this “dilemma”. Even both of you did works together before and it is obvious who’s who, I also wasn’t quite convinced. It was like an oil & vinegar scenario, the two of you being mixed together while you are keeping constantly bouncing off each other. Is this really the case or am I crazy?
We are still fighting who’s the first to answer this question!
D: Haha. In fact, you are totally right. When we paint together it’s the same as when we hang out together or have a discussion. It can be super nice and relaxed. Everything is easy, we agree on almost everything. Then, suddenly, we are in the middle of a huge fight and in the end, we don’t even remember why. I see that in the paintings we made together, too. Sometimes I look at them and I like them, I find something that interests me. Sometimes I think it’s too much and I am bored with the contradictions and differences.
K: You are not crazy and I like oil and vinegar. Hahaha, but sometimes when I drink the leftover salad sauce I start sweating and my brain burns. But still, it’s a great mix.
Last question to both of you what’s next and what is your resume from your work stay in New York?
K: The next thing to come is a group exhibition called „Transition“. Both of us take part. It is curated by Johann Heahling von Lanzenauer and takes place at the Hotel de Rome.
New York was a crazy experience on every level. I’m thankful we did this, our One-Night Pop-Up show went very well, the feedback was fantastic. But we came in the winter, we were kind of locked in and it was extraordinarily challenging.
D: Yes, sometimes when it was really cold the heater in our studio even went off. Next time I want to have more time to explore and enjoy the city. Nevertheless, it was an intense time that I don’t want to have missed. I think we both learned a lot about ourselves and for me the time in NYC and the way we spent our time there definitely also shaped my new series of work.
A charity exhibition at Hotel de Rome for Olafur Eliasson’s Little Sun Foundation
Participating artists: Jiri Georg Dokoupil, Stefan Marx, Danni Pantel, Random International, Oskar Rink, Fiete Stolte, Karl-Luis Vossbeck
Curated by Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer
Opening: April 6 | 6 – 8 pm
Hotel de Rome | Behrenstraße 37 | Berlin
DP: THE ONE WHERE THEY DIDN’T GET ALONG, 2019
KLV: *WEDER DIES WEDER NOCH* 2019
183 x 122 cm, Oil, lacquer, markers, graphite and spray paint on canvas
DP: THEM RAGGA PLAYERS AND NICE MICE ON TOP, 2019
KLV: i forgot the title, 2019, 183 x 122 cm
DP: nyt, 2019, 183 x 153 cm, Oil and lacquer on canvas
Photo Credit: oi production, New York