In conversation: Jan Kiefer
On the occasion of our new collaboration Optimismus, Pessimismus, Realismus, 2022 with Jan Kiefer, we spoke to the Basel-based artist about flags, his dog Forrest and the exhibition space Die Treppe that he is running with artist Othmar Farré.
The artist with his dog Forrest
SSM: Glass half empty or glass half full?
JK: Half full.
SSM: Do you consider yourself an optimist, pessimist or realist?
JK: Realistic optimist.
SSM: Your artistic practice explores various different mediums and subject matters. Could you name an underlying theme that connects your work?
JK: The medium painting/painting history is something that informs most of my works. I’m combining references to art history with pop cultural and political symbols. I like the format of the comment. The comment is definitely something that connects all of my works.
SSM: When did you first start painting the flags?
JK: I painted the first one in 2019/2020.
SSM: From your perspective, are they abstract, figurative or neither of the two?
JK: I think the word abstract is misleading. Abstraction means reduction. In this respect, the work is probably the abstraction of a flag.
SSM: Do you have a favourite flag?
JK: A favourite flag in general or a favourite flag painting? I like this one we chose for the edition.
Optimismus, Pessimismus, Realismus, 2022
5-colour screen print on paper
SSM: What came first? The colours or the text?
JK: The text.
SSM: With this being your first-ever edition, why did you choose a screen print over other printing methods?
JK: Screen printing is not so different from how I paint the flags. I use stencils to paint the flags, which is somehow the same technique screen printing is based on. Also the paint and its color quality is quite similar to these I use for this type of paintings. It’s based on pigments and a water based medium.
SSM: What are your plans for the rest of your year?
JK: Going to my studio as often as possible, preparing a solo booth with Kai Matsumiya Gallery for The Armory Show in NYC, walking Forrest, my dog.
SSM: Besides your personal art practice, you also run the art space Die Treppe in Basel. Could you tell us a bit more about the program and upcoming shows?
JK: Die Treppe is an art space I’m running with Othmar Farré. It's dedicated to painting in a broader sense. Through showing contemporary painting, historical artists as well as painting related practices we are creating a space for discussions and friends. We are opening a show the 29th of May with Golnaz Hosseini and Kaspar Müller.