Circles of red, swirls of yellow, splashes of green. Colours blending, separating and pooling. These are the works of SPONK (b. 1989), an artist interested in the random behaviour of paints and liquids. To some, the compositions may evoke aerial landscapes – zoomed out snapshots taken from satellite imaging. Others may see the end of a kaleidoscope, or something entirely different. Each of SPONK’s artworks is unique; the patterns are fleeting, captured only through videos and photo collages. In conversation with Aesthetica, the artist – represented by Pashmin Art Consortia – explains how these complex worlds come to life.
A: How did you get started in art, and what drew you to abstraction?
S: I got my start in 2005 in the graffiti scene, where I dealt with the abstraction and colouring of letters. This is also where I got my artist name, “Sponk.” In order to give my creativity a broader spectrum, I began painting depictions of nature in 2015. Here, too, abstraction emerged, which resulted from my impulsive and expressionistic style of painting. After completing about 400 works, I developed my project Vivid Liquids, where I explore colours on a macroscopic scale.
A: Every one of your pieces is unique. Can you outline the process of making them?
S: My Vivid Liquids are random compositions resulting from the combination of various pigment-containing substances: an orchestra of molecules. I take on the role of conductor and provoke various patterns, movements or phenomena within the heterogeneous colour mixture. It’s a process that is not repeatable due to the living interaction of billions of small components. Thus, each of my works is unique. I preserve these fleeting phenomena in photo-collages and video recordings, which I document with the help of my self-built Ernst Haeckel machine. German scientist Haeckel (1834-1919) was pioneer in the aesthetic study of microbial life. The colour carriers on which I generate my landscapes transform through subsequent drying. They remain – similar to fossils – as a testimony of liveliness in a liquid state. Together, the colour carrier and the landscape form the work of art.
SPONK (Dan Geffert), Destruction of the Bifröst, Experimental painting, photography, 240 x 102,5 cm, 2019.
A: There’s something scientific about your practice. Which areas of study interest you?
S: I am fascinated by the infinite creative power of nature. Exploring and discovering new things has been my instinctive drive since childhood. So, before studying industrial design at the Folkwang University of the Arts, I first studied Biology at the Ruhr University in Bochum. Today, I use my accumulated knowledge from both periods of my life to express myself artistically or to build apparatus for practising art. With Vivid Liquids, I create lively and infinitely complex colour compositions, which I can then explore and observe for further development.
A: What does colour mean to you?
S: Through the radiant power of colours, our environment communicates with us, draws our attention, wins our enthusiasm, scares us off or tries to hide from us. They are an essential part of our lives. With this knowledge, it is possible for me, as an artist, to actively or intuitively express my feelings and let others experience them. I love to put different coloured materials and substances in ever new combinations, to play with contrasts or to depict them in flowing colour gradients.
A: Many of these artworks evoke aerial landscapes – like mountains and lakes captured from above. Was this your intention? How does nature inform your work?
S: The Vivid Liquids are in dialogue with viewers’ visual memories. They are random amorphous structures that our brains try to make sense of. Everyone is able to discover something different in them. Each person will be inspired in an individual way, and perhaps tempted to make associations. It’s a series that probes the deep psychology of each individual, similar to a tube well test.
SPONK (Dan Geffert), Yellow Stone, Experimental painting, photography, 184 x 124,5 cm, 2018.
For me, personally, the creation of each piece is a special journey of exploration into an unknown, animate world of colour. In part, I can influence what happens, but nature also takes the reins. Each time, I am thrilled anew by the structures, patterns and colour phenomena that emerge. They are so complex and unique that a human brain could never have thought them up. I create art hand in hand with natural laws.
A: What do you hope audiences take away from your images?
S: In everyday human life, our consciousness stays almost exclusively in the scale we have created for our needs. I would like to give viewers a new perspective on the world we live in. Tiny structures can appear, to the curious eye, as huge and sublime when one opens oneself to this world. With my art, I want to stimulate thought and expand our consciousness to further levels of representation.
SPONK (Dan Geffert), Mini Symmetrics Collection No. 6, 2020. Minted in 2021. 7205 × 5433 px.
A: What’s next for you – any exhibitions or projects on the horizon?
S: I am at the beginning of my journey with Vivid Liquids. Technological progress has allowed me to dive deeper into the macrocosm and share my impressions with other people in a creative way. The digital world is merging with our reality more than ever, and my latest art has many digital components.
SPONK is part of Figuratum durch Abstractum II, a Group Exhibition at Pashmin Art Gallery, Hamburg. 20 August – 14 September 2021. Find out more here or at sponk-design.com.
Internationally represented by Pashmin Art Consortia | pashminart-consortia.com
In the field of digital crypto art known as NFT, SPONK is represented by Bitrockxa Capital | bitrockxa.com
Lead image: SPONK (Dan Geffert), Coral, Experimental painting, photography, 152 x 80 cm, 2018.