MATHIAS LANFER - SPAMS
21st January until 5th March 2017Working and processing materials is frequently set with imponderables which may sometimes lead to some unpredictable results. This more often than not undesirable state of affairs is for the artist Mathias Lanfer a welcome opportunity for improvisation. Despite the fact that the production of his sculptures is meticulously prepared with the aid of sketches, models and structural designs, he is quite willing to allow accidental influences, which are inevitable during the working process, to play their part. "Logic is also a form of play in all of this and surprises even arise where one would expect them.", he points out.
This principle of the interaction between coincidence and planning is well illustrated by the sculptures in the work group ‘SPAMS’ which are shown in the scope of the exhibition. The work ‘SPAM#4’ for example was created from a solid 1.4-ton steel block and with the help of an industrial press made into a series of tapering blocks. Attached to the steel body is an organically curved milky bubble of acrylic glass, produced according the principles glass-blowing from a synthetic skin which has been heated.
The compact steel block has been modelled by means of the application of external forces, whereas the shape of the plastic bubble was created by increasing the internal air pressure. In both cases the material must first be heated and then allowed to cool in the course of the process. In doing so, the elastic characteristics of the material alter. Under these circumstances the behaviour of the material is subject to influences which can be planned to only a limited extent, and it is for exactly this reason that Mathias Lanfer is forced to react spontaneously and intuitively in order to intervene and control the sculptural process. This experience he describes as "an experience of process forming sculpture".
In these works Lanfer plays poetically with the disparate characteristics of the materials. The massive bulk of the steel block seems to disintegrate into an apparently weightless bubble. The material metamorphoses from weightiness to lightness, from mass to fragility. The ambiguous title ‘SPAM’ also refers to this. This word which is the term commonly used to describe undesirable junk mails originates from the American term for canned meat and was derived by combing the words ‘spiced’ with ‘ham’. From the point of view of the artist, it represents the attempt to bring contemporary, available organic materials in rationally defined forms. Furthermore, Lanfer regards his other works as a transformative process, whereby not only the shape of the material alters but also the artist himself and his sculptural standpoint.
Mathias Lanfer was born in 1961. He studied sculpture at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and was a master student of Tony Cragg. After lecturing sculpture at the Academy of Art in Düsseldorf, he now teaches at the college Hochschule Niederrhein in Krefeld. He lives and works in Heiligenhaus.