André Wendland has always been a big fan of cartoons. When he started to work on this subject matter in 2020, he quickly realized that great opportunities for development lay in this source of inspiration. Various new ideas for his painting have emerged, such as painting on flat screens, old tube TVs or discarded cell phones—always in the aesthetics of cartoons. While characters like the Simpsons or Mickey Mouse kept popping up in Wendland’s work, the artist also tried his hand at stop-motion animation, inventing his own characters and compositions of the moving image. Over time, his subjects became more image-filling and larger, as did the formats. Wit and humor are omnipresent here, although Wendland is not always concerned with narrative representation.
Wendland takes great pleasure in presenting his work in a context other than the usual studio setting or on white walls. Looking for surroundings that suit the content of his images, the artist has presented his car images, for example, on the streets of his city. "Vehicles belong on the street," the artist states. "It's comparable to children playing with toy cars. They form their own world in the children's room, and their imagination does the rest. When these images are displayed after their tour of the city, they remind me of discarded race cars that have already done their job and can now be shown in a museum. They have experienced something that is now a part of the work. I like that idea."
Apart from cartoons, what other influences are important for your work?
I have been working with people with disabilities as a volunteer at Lebenshilfe Leonberg e.V. for several years. I would say that this has become one of the cornerstones of the work that I am doing at the moment. Ideas for motifs or topics that I would like to treat in my studio are around every corner. Simple activities such as a visit to the bakery, crossing a traffic light or sitting on a park bench often give me the first impulse for a new work. The rest happens during the process on the canvas.
What is the biggest challenge you face when making a painting?
At the moment, composition plays a very big role in my work. I need some time for this in the beginning, until I am satisfied and can get started. I also like to use my iPad for the first sketches, because I can work pretty quickly and cleanly there. If the composition fits and I work on the first parts, I usually do not think so much about what I could do wrong. I also often decide the colours quite spontaneously. In the whole painting process, of course, you always come to points where you need to decide how to continue or even when the last brush stroke is made. In the end, the painting is only a string of decisions that were made.
What is the most important thing you learned at art school?
That is hard to say. In any case, it's important to stay in constant contact with your fellow students. In the end, that's what I think you can profit from the most during your time at the academy. There are many little things that you can take away from the academy over the years, all of them important for yourself and your work.
What does a typical day at the studio look like for you?
There is not really a typical daily routine. I wouldn't really call myself a morning person, so my day usually doesn't start before 11 o’clock in the studio. Music is actually playing the whole time. At the moment, I like to listen to Nepumuk and Retrogott, but good techno music is also very welcome. Then I spend the whole day in front of the canvas. When I have a painting in progress, I usually don't take big breaks either. I don't like such interruptions very much. Before the whole Corona thing, the Academy allowed students to stay in the studio as long as they wanted. It was not uncommon to paint until 4 o'clock in the morning.
Now the closing service comes at 11 p.m. and sends us home, but we've gotten used to that by now. I always take photos of my work when I leave the studio in the evening. At home, I can then think about it again in a calm and detached way and develop the work on the iPad a bit further. This step makes it less difficult for me to get back to work the next day. Assembling canvas stretchers and priming is, of course, time-consuming, but the more time you spend on it, the better it will be when you return to the studio and the canvas is prepared and ready in front of you.
How do people react when you display your paintings in the streets?
Reactions are quite varied. Some ask what the whole thing is about; others make a few snapshots. During the vehicle action in the summer of this year, however, many people did not know quite how to deal with the situation and more or less ignored the whole thing, which was also kind of funny. But most of them had a smile on their faces, which made me glad! We were, of course, blocking traffic as we waited for the lights to turn green with the paintings on the road, but the drivers in the cars behind us were relatively tolerant. What was amusing about it was that the police pulled us out and thought the whole thing was some kind of demonstration. However, we were able to quickly resolve the misunderstanding after a short conversation. The police officers were also very friendly and made an interesting impression.
MISA VAN HAM KUNST_HALLE
André Wendland is part of MISA VAN HAM KUNST_HALLE, the fifth edition of MISA taking place near Cologne from 16-21 November for the first time. In partnership with VAN HAM over 30 emerging and established positions will be presented together offline and online with digital art at the same time as Art Cologne.
Please click HERE to browse through the available work by Wendland.
André Wendland (b. 1995) studies at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe in the class of Tatjana Doll. Wendland had several solo shows in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe since 2018. His work has also been part of group exhibitions in Germany, France, and Italy. In 2021, Wendland received the scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation.