Mathias Hornung

„In my wood works I move in this fascinating space, which tilts back and forth between two- and three-dimensionality.“

1965 born in Tübingen, 1988 - 1993 studied stage and costume design at the State University of Fine Arts Stuttgart Weissenhof, 1985 - 1988 training as industrial mechanic. Since 2017 his works have been regularly exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Reutlingen, Regensburg, Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Cape Town (South Africa) and Kluisbergen (Belgium). He has also exhibited his work at various fairs, including the Toronto Art Fair, Art Karlsruhe and Positions Berlin. Mathias Hornung lives and works in Berlin.

We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:

19P Education
25P Work
21P Significance

When did you start working as an artist?

During my stage design studies at the Stuttgart Academy I started making woodcuts. I still do that today. My work starts with a woodcut and I always return to it.

How do you go about your work and what techniques do you use?

Most of the time it´s all handmade, because I have to create panels that don´t warp. In a workshop I saw up planks that are glued and cut to size, which I then process further. Only then does my artistic work begin. I begin to process the boards into a relief. With the help of a guideline, which serves as a ruler for the further lines, I usually cut into the boards with my machines in a grid pattern.

I am not interested in the craftsmanship. In the end that is something I could have someone else do, but for some works I need to build the basic form myself.

People always ask me whether I work with jigs and fixtures or a computer milling machine and they are always surprised when I explain that my work is done by free hand. I don´t want this perfection, these exact parallelisms or „squares“. I always approach the exact geometry approximately and after a kind of reflex.

How do you create your works?

Some of my works are created parallel to each other. I often leave works for weeks or months, continue working on others or create smaller ones directly.

When I create a piece of art I might already be thinking about the next piece, because the sequence of work is monotonous and stupid. With large works, it is always recurring, always the same sequences, i.e. a repetitive work process that leads to the production of the work.

And through these monotonous hours I sometimes fall into a kind of trance.

What are your current works about?

At the moment I am dealing with codes, with legibility and illegibility of writings or information, where clear structures dissolve over a kind of diffuse zone into a purely pixelated landscape.

„Fonts that dissolve into nothingness“ - these are themes I want to represent in my works. Such a gliding transition from a clear, almost geometrical pictoriality to a dissolving landscape. It then almost goes into a topography, into a uniformity, where one no longer sees individual structural elements, but only a basic structure that dominates in this work.

What materials do you work with and why?

I am surrounded by stone sculptors, but I have nothing to do with stones. Wood is my material. I am faithful to wood.

Wood is quick to work with, not heavy and I can work with it quite flexibly. I can stick, take off and saw. It is a useful material for an impatient artist like me.

How do you describe your art?

I mainly deal with wood reliefs, woodcuts and wood sculptures. A wood relief is ultimately a work that you hang on the wall, that is not a sculpture, but it goes into the sculptural and works in a very short depth range.

It is in this short, fascinating terrain that I move, this narrow space that tilts back and forth between two- and three-dimensionality and in which one can create an incredible effect of depth. And that is what my work is all about. It stands in contrast to the work of a painter who perhaps changes direction with every brushstroke. With me everything is directional and time-oriented.

What does this trance do to you?

It gives me time to think. Since I don´t have to coordinate anything and just concentrate on the fact that the machine is running, I can think about other things.

Do you want to say something with your art?

I want the viewers of my art to interpret for themselves what is meant in terms of content. I like that and I am always grateful for the interaction of the viewers.

I think I do these reliefs because I´m such a waverer between two and three dimensions. This is what always interests and fascinates me, as well as the phenomena that I can create: something tips over into the space, it somehow tilts or fans out and folds back into two-dimensionality. In the relief works I have this short scope and can go into this space with few means. How I worked my way in there was a long process. I guess you could say that I´m a microcosmic freak with an obsession for details. And I always have to be careful to keep my eye on the big picture.

My pure grid work is open to the interpretation of the viewer. I don´t even like to commit myself to titles. I choose neutral titles so that the viewer has the possibility to choose and to enter the world of the piece himself. Because in the end we don´t know what proportions and sizes we are in. If you have never seen the original, you will be totally lost when you see the picture, because it is not clearly recognizable whether this is a microcosm or a very big world. It fascinates me not to know whether I am in a micro- or macrocosm.

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