As a child Volkano never wanted to grow up. Art offered him an exit and became his safe haven – his sandpit.
an article written by Carmen Line Hust
ARTICULATE #26 | JAN 2021
The German-born artist Volkano (b. 1981), who’s mythical quest is rooted in the genre of pop surrealism or lowbrow art, does not distinguish himself from any other infant. Since childhood, he’s been playing around with pencils and other creative tools. While facing problems of concentration during his years of school, the process of painting offered him an exit; a safe haven – full of satisfaction and gratitude.
Lowbrow art (pop surrealism)
Lowbrow art, or pop surrealism, is a visual art movement that arose in Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. Its cultural roots are inspired by in underground comic, punk music, tiki culture, and hot-rod cultures of the street, as an ironical distance or contrast to the academic elite within the domain of art. The terms lowbrow and pop surrealism are used interchangeably. Lowbrow is often humorous, sarcastic, or ironic.Most lowbrow artworks are paintings, but there are also toys, digital art, sculpture, and collage.
When he began his study of Graphic Design in Hamburg, Volkano also started working on canvases, through which he developed his subjects and concepts.
"As a child I never wanted to become adult. I thought I had to give up painting
when grown. The decision on becoming an artist saved me from this issue.
The art became my sandpit"
The preferred media of Volkano is (mostly) to paint with oils on canvas, as he loves the smoothness of the oil paint and the variations of using oil so rich, that you learn something new every single time. Also, he finds the process of preparing the mixtures of color and choosing the right oil, to achieve a particular effect or emotion, a delicate matter.
Oil colors also have a very long tradition in art history. To Volkano, the most beautiful paintings were created in oil colors and by the most incredible artists, such as DaVinci, Caravaggio, Rembrandt or Vermeer. Sharing the same craft with these individuals, makes Volkano humble and keeps him encouraged, dedicated and serious, while painting.
All the works of Volkano are born from a single subject, which is that of childhood and of maturing. The fear of losing one’s innocence and the fear of facing the adult rituals, that one way or another will mature the innocent spirit and amplify life into utter complexity. As the subject has a pretty wide range, one piece evolves and makes way for another, Volkano explains. And since art to him, is all about seeking, Volkano just let his work emerge on their own.
In the artistic process of Volkano, nothing is left to uncertainty. First, he chooses his model and makes his decision on the dress. After the preparational steps, Volkano takes a photo shoot in his studio, from which he selects a bunch of photographs, which serve as references during his further process of painting. Though the numerous photographs serve as Volkano’s sketches, few of them make it, and finally turn into paintings.
Volkano believes that the key element in creating a good composition is that of simplicity, for which he keeps his simple. According to him, a portrait doesn’t need much. For certain elements, he makes use of classical techniques, such as the golden ratio*. Other than that, Volkano trusts his senses. And if it feels good, he lets it happen.
The golden ratio has been used by artists to locate aesthetically pleasing areas to place our subjects and distribute weight in our paintings. Another option is to segment the painting / visual work into nine unequal sections using the golden ratio.
Volkano loves art that is seeking the dark side of the human mind. Artists like Beligian Michaël Borremanns (b. 1963) is specifically pleasing to him. Volkano is drawn to the work of Borremanns, since they remain a mystery to him. What’s going on in these works? What do they represent? Further, Volkano is also drawn to the German artist Neo Rauch (b. 1960), the Austrian avantgarde artist Hermann Nitsch (b. 1938), the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), the Dutch artist Rembrandt (1606-1669) and the Austrian-Irish visual artist Gottfried Helnwein (b. 1948). Helnwein is somewhat special to Volkano, as he paints in a realistic manner unlike anyone else. To Volkano there are a lot of hyperrealist painters, but only the paintings of Helnwein remain realistic.
To Volkano, art is a very serious matter. Volkano is portraying the removal of our free mind and our impulsive joy, as we mature and adjust. Combining beauty with grief, Volkano also unite joy with melancholy. To him, a painting shouldn’t be fun. Rather, it should awake the deepest and darkest emotions, convulse the heart and get stuck there.
This article about Volkano takes part of the 26th magazine, ARTICULATE #26. Read, download or order your print version of the full publication below.
ARTICULATE #26 | International
ARTICULATE 26 is a magazine for contemporary art, packed with 80 pages of high quality content, showcasing the work of 5 professional artists, featuring the German painter Volkano, the French street art duo Murmure street, the American illustrator and visual artist Steven Russell Black, the Greek disturber Nefeli Kyriacou and Brazilian creative photographer Jacke Batista.