Farbvision: Why did you choose to title this “The Fox”?
Alexander Wagner: The title The Fox refers to a paper collage my daughter did some years ago. It is a simple two colour piece with abstract shapes on it. When we talked about it she told me that it was a fox. I very much enjoyed the freedom in the shapes she had cut and the way they were “organised”. Her collage triggered in me the idea to focus on shapes and their potential. So in a way her fox was the initial inspiration for these works and the title indicates references behind the shapes.
What works are in this show, and how did you make them?
The works are all enamel on copper. Enamel is a very old technique, today mainly known for its use in applied arts or jewellery. It is basically melted glass which is applied as a powder to the supporting material. In the next step the whole thing goes into a kiln at a temperature of 850° C where the glass melts and connects with the copper.
The shapes I used were initially found material and during the project I started to cut my own shapes, which derived from earlier works on paper and later became more and more independent. I also started to melt different copper plates with each other. They were actually cut independently and not necessarily intended to be part of the same piece but combined they disclosed new potentials.
Did the particular character of Farbvision, as a decoratively tiled space, affect the decisions you made in preparing this exhibition?
Yes! The space gave important impulses on several levels. The initial idea was to react to the characteristic walls by exhibiting the enamel works. In the beginning I was not sure if the surface of the works might be too similar to the gallery tiles and would fight with the ornamentation, but it turned out to be a compelling interaction. I realised that even Farbvision to me worked like an image. As a result I focused more on the relation between the individual works and the space itself, which I wanted to become an active part in the pieces, a picture element. I used non-rectangular contours or cut openings in the picture plane so the tiled walls would “complete” with the image in their own way and the exhibition space and the works become a linked entity.
Your way of working in the studio seems intuitive, in that you like to combine different techniques and different gestures without perhaps knowing what the end result will look like. Is the element of surprise important in your working process? I appreciate the element of surprise very much, it keeps me going and I have the feeling of learning something and making progress. Intuition navigates me like I explore a city that I don’t know: I start without a goal but with certain interests and knowledge. Sometimes I get lost along the way, or discover a place where I haven't been before. That’s what is interesting to me. Once I find something surprising I focus on it and start to probe its nature. So the element of surprise is a constant source for ideas and I try to allow it space tohappen.
The enamel works are something in between planning and intuition. I also chose this material because it is only controllable to a certain extend (the specific qualities of the colour for example). I didn’t want to improve or learn how to use the material “properly” because it would have only limited me. I like the idea of the studio as a laboratory or workshop where everything is possible, I can use all kinds of materials and explore their potential in my own way. I think the gesture of intuition, risk and discovery is essential to creating something surprising.