When first looking at the work of Caroline Kryzecki it can be hard to work out what you’re actually looking at: is it a painting or a photograph? Has it been done digitally? Is that a magic eye poster?
In fact Caroline Kryzecki spends hours meticulously drawing lines on paper with ballpoint pens, in a complex grid formation that relies on a detailed documentation system that only Kryzecki understands.
Here, we speak to the Berlin-based artst about her drawings, why she began obsessively drawing lines and why it’s important to speak your own artistic language.
Tell us about your work. How did you get so into drawing lines?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
Four years ago I was in the lucky position to receive a residency founded by the Berlin Senate in Istanbul. Up until that point I had been working on a series of systematic geometric paintings with lacquer on wood. Arriving in Istanbul I didn’t have a certain plan or project in mind, nor did I bring any materials with me. I was open to leave everything behind me to start something new. I walked through the city for some weeks and took a lot of photos of structures, grids, tiles etc. During that time I had absolutely no idea where this would lead to and when I started drawing lines in Istanbul I would never have imagined that I would get so deeply into this practice of Moiré drawings.
It then took about another two years to get the drawings into a state of organization similar to the ones I am working on now. I work only with the four commercially available ballpoint pen colors: black, blue, red and green. This limitation gives me a great freedom. Also the size of my works is currently limited to three different formats: 50 x 35 cm, 100 x 70 cm and 200 x 152 cm. The smallest size refers to the size of my Istanbul drawings. All drawings consist of a minimum of two layers of parallel line grids, which are slightly shifted. The bigger the angle, the smaller the Moiré-pattern and vice versa. The more I dive into this system, the more I’m able to reduce the works and to adjust them precisely to their quintessence.
Your practice relies heavily on a complex method of documenting and calculation – is making your work in some ways cathartic for you?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
Once the drawings became more and more complex, I started to make notes to be able to reenact the specific parameters I was working on within a certain drawing. Since I didn’t want to write novels at every step, I needed to develop a sort of “code” that I could use. I work with abbreviations of the different parameters I am using: i.e. color, amount of layers, horizontal or vertical alignment, angle, and intervals. Out of these parameters and their relation to each other I develop the source code of the drawing.
Although I have a very systematical and conceptual approach to my work, eventually the work emerges through its imperfectness and little errors that occur due to the drawing process. I also never work with a computer. The system is the syntax of my work, but in the end it is my intuition that gets the final say. What I like about this working method is that I can do it directly and don’t have to plan very much ahead. No technical equipment is required. I also cannot accelerate it very much, because every single line needs to be drawn by hand. So it’s a relatively fixed pace, drawing a line from A to B. And again, and again, and again… Not too much and not too little. I need to be focused on that very moment of drawing each line. I am often working for several weeks on a large drawing on my table, and once I think a work is finished, I hang it to the wall for the first time. That’s the best moment. With each drawing I figure out the next step. It’s a slow process. And it’s a whole world.
Your work is instantly recognizable as yours – is something that you think collectors might find desirable when collecting works from an artist?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
First of all thank you for appreciating my work. Yes, I do think that once your work is easily recognizable, collectors might find it more desirable. Although the contemporary artistic practice is not necessarily assessable in the sense of the modern author anymore; there are always influences by other artists. Every good artist has her or his own language. My aim is to express my work as precisely as possible with the tools and language that I’ve got. No more and no less. Stick to your work, no matter what anyone else says. I was studying in Daniel Richter’s class at the UdK in Berlin and I was doing some weird figurative collage paintings at that time. On one occasion he was very confused about my work – usually he always knows what to say. In the end he said there were two options: my work was going to be either very good or very bad. I liked that, because for an artist the worst thing is being mediocre. I’d rather fail with dignity.
How important is the role of a collector to your practice?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
Well first of all collectors are important in order to enable me to continue my work on an every day basis. Furthermore the collector is important in terms of the context where my work is going to be shown. I am interested in how my work is being received by people that are not artists and I want my work to have a direct impact on the viewer.
Is it important for you to meet the collector who is buying one of your works?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
It is always interesting to meet my collectors, although I don’t know all of them personally. I like it if a collector is approaching my work from another context and background other than art. One of my collectors is working in the IT-sector for example and he’s collecting Media Art which is somehow related to informatics. It is quite interesting to see if there is an interdisciplinary approach to my work with a new input for its reception. I am also simply more relaxed if I know that my work is in good hands, although if it doesn’t belong to me anymore I am happy if the work is treated well and respectful.
Are you interested in knowing where and how your work will be placed and shown?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
I’m curious and definitely interested in knowing where my work ends up. I really appreciate it when works of mine are being shown in the context of a collection. For example one of my works will be included in the group show “My Abstract World” at me Collectors Room Berlin.
A collector once told me that he is very proud to show his guests, that my work is handmade. There are little dots and errors in the drawing, and he knows exactly how many there are and where they are. That was nice to hear. He definitely knows the work better than I do because he lives with the piece. There’s a transition between a work in the studio and a work outside of the studio. After leaving the studio it’s no longer working material anymore.
Has a collector ever commissioned work from you? How do you approach a commissioned piece of work?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
I just received a request for a site-specific work by an Austrian collector for a castle in the Steiermark. To be honest I’m very excited about it. One year ago I realized my first floor piece at Arratia Beer in Berlin, in a group show curated by Arturo Herrera. There, I covered the entire gallery floor with around 500 silkscreen prints over 150 square meters. Basically the visitors of the exhibition were inside of a monumental drawing of mine! This experience was very intense and it had a huge impact on my work. Site-specific works are definitely something I want to put my focus on.
You’ve recently returned from the Copenhagen’s CODE Art Fair – do you think the recent influx of new art fairs popping up is helping more people become art collectors?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
That’s a difficult question. As I understand it, CODE Art Fair is the first Scandinavian art fair that aims to connect the Scandinavian art scene to the international market, but I think in order to become an art collector you need a certain approach or somehow an initial contact to the art world. I don’t think that the pure existence of more art fairs generates more art collectors. But then again how do you define an art collector? Is a private person who purchases artworks from time to time an art collector as well?
What plans do you have for your work? Will you continue to work with the pen on paper method?CAROLINE KRYZECKI
Plans? So many! Recently I have been working with silkscreen printing but I definitely keep on working on the source codes of my system though. I feel that I just got to the point where these source codes reached a new level, which makes the work really exciting at this moment. They are like an underlying system, like a spine. I understand my works as a visual language with the source codes as their syntax. With them as a basis, I can potentially go into any direction, let it be drawings or all kinds of site-specific works. And like I mentioned above, I would love to do more site-specific works in the future. For that I cannot rely on ballpoint pen and paper alone or rather those tools aren’t always suitable.
The drawings I am working on now are just one option of their material manifestation. They are like a vessel for the content and the source codes are somehow the theory of everything. Sometimes I get the feeling that everything is there already – it just needs to be discovered. I always start new developments in a very complicated and cumbersome approach and I then am trying to extract the simplest things, reduce and reduce and reduce. Getting rid of everything unessential. The best works are those that appear to be the easiest.