“My process is all about spontaneity”: Interview with André Wendland

Humor, straight compositions and clear colors are essentials for André Wendland’s distinctive visual language. With this artistic approach, he makes the narrative as important as the composition and the color itself. His paintings tell tales about angry drivers, people taking baths at a stranger’s house or about sharing a big cigarette, all of those in classic Wendland composition. Large-scale spaces, oftentimes simple figures, which then evolve during the process of the painting until being transformed into cartoon-like bold characters placed in bizarre positions and filled with bright colors, ranging from carmine over light green to ultramarine.  

Wendland’s tales are an homage to cartoons, of which he has always been a fan of and have inspired him ever since. Back in 2020 he decided to integrate this subject into his practice: “The colors, the clear shapes, but of course also the humor and how entertaining they are were the main reasons.” By sticking to the aesthetics of cartoons, André Wendland has created new ideas for his works such as painting on flat screens, old tube TVs or discarded cell phones and as well brought own characters to life. He also aims to bring this humor and wittiness to spaces outside his studio and a gallery’s white walls: “I prefer a context that’s a better fit for the image. Last year, I worked on a series of drivers, and it only made sense to show the works on the street.”  

For the collaboration between misa.art and Business Punk, André Wendland is releasing his artwork “Sharing A Bigger Cigarette” in an exclusive edition of 50. We talked to him about the creation process behind the painting. 

What’s the story behind “Sharing a bigger cigarette”? 

With "Sharing a bigger cigarette" there was a predecessor image that was a little smaller and simply was called "Sharing a cigarette". I felt like showing the scene on a larger scale. I always need a big space, on which my works take place, so I painted it on a 2x2 meter canvas.  I started the painting by dividing up the canvas in two ellipses and start the process from there. I didn’t know before that I would paint two people’s heads who share a cigarette. These details evolve in the process of creating.  

Can you lead us through your creation process? 

My process is all about spontaneity and what happens while painting, I don’t really control it. But of course, there comes a point when I decide in what direction the painting will go. Oftentimes, I have several different ideas for images; for example, two faces but without a cigarette, or both share something else. In the end, I intuitively decide on one of the versions. I already made the sketch for “Sharing a bigger cigarette” a few months ago, but when it comes to implementing the sketch on the canvas, I decide spontaneously, and it depends on what I feel like at that moment.  

How do you decide on the colors?  

I would say that also comes from my guts. I often prepare a few colors when sketching on the iPad and look at how I can implement them so that it is most harmonious for me. Oftentimes it is the case though that I set my mind on using these colors on the canvas, but when I start mixing, I realize that it goes in a completely different direction. I then just go with the flow.  The color choice is a spontaneous thing, but I do notice that there are always phases in which I prefer certain colors in my paintings. 

What reactions do you hope to receive by the spectators?  

I hope that people hang on to it as they pass by and that it triggers something in the viewer. With me, the format always plays a role and how the bodies fit into it, however it's not important to me that there's a complex story behind it. Everyone can interpret what they want - I'm very open to reactions. I don't want to reveal much about what’s behind the picture that I have thought about. I find it much more exciting to see and hear what the painting triggers in the viewer.  

What have the reactions been like for “Sharing a bigger cigarette”? 

Many have seen three faces on it, one on the right, one on the left and then one from the frontal view, which is a combination of the two faces. But the comments I got have been very positive actually.  

What learnings could you take away from creating this painting? 

I don't know if it was this work in particular, but it certainly contributed to the fact that I find a certain symmetry in my work quite exciting. I find this juxtaposition of two bodies that resemble each other in a way but also are very different but work well together in an image. That definitely emerges very strongly in this work. 

Will there be a third part to the series - “Sharing an even bigger cigarette”? 

I don’t know yet. Sometimes I fall back on such stories, but it's good for me if a little time passes by. If I pick it up again, it will take another direction in any case, because in the meantime other things begin to interest me in the atelier. I always find it very exciting to take up projects again that I have started working on a while back. The approach always changes, and I start to see paintings from a whole new perspective. So, let's see if there will be a third part, I’m definitely intrigued. 

André Wendland's work "Sharing a bigger cigarette" is part of the collaboration with Business Punk. 50 limited editions are exclusively available on misa.art! Click HERE to find out more.