System of belief is a feature about the contemporary visual artist and his Yellow Universe | How to create a universe that doesn't fall apart two minutes later
Munchies art club Magazine is thrilled to finally share our conversation with the Austrian artist Ernst Koslitsch about his ever expanding Yellow Universe and presents for the first time an overview of his work from the past year.
With his art practice, Koslitsch questions systems of belief, specifically interested in how they occur and where they stem from.
To answer this question for himself, Ernst began building a world in 2018.
For this world that turned into a universe he calls Yellow, Ernst creates sculptures, artefacts, wall works, and paintings.
For his sculptures, he uses yellow wood he finds on construction sites.
His colorful paintings and drawings are his keys to unlocking and unfolding the stories behind his sculptural works.
Recently the artist has shown work at the exhibition titled "A Playground Guide to getting Lost" curated by Lina Albrikiene at the Neue Galerie Graz.
Currently Ernst is working on a new series of Holy stick sculptures which will be on display as a solo-public-space installation this autumn in Vienna.
Ernst Koslitsch walks us through his organically growing universe and we share with you our behind-the-scenes interview.
Q&A with Ernst Koslitsch
You create a world called Yellow Universe. Could you explain that to our readers?
I try to avoid explaining my work initially, because what I really enjoy is hearing others interpretations.
That is what I am trying to achieve. My growing fantastical worlds should kindle a different story for everyone.
For me it’s like in “Total recall. You know the book by Philip K. Dick?
In the story, you don’t know what is real or made up, whether you are awake or dreaming.
I have come to perceive my world more and more as a growing civilization.
In parts, it resembles our world, but I am aiming for a different better version.
When my work takes over I am in transit.
This aids me in my pursuit to answering my earthly questions with other world answers.
You refer a lot to science fiction or authors who have created their own worlds. Can you tell us about that?
Yes! There are definitely a lot of Science-fiction referrals in my artefacts.
There are some solid approaches expressed there that have something evolutionary about them.
An interestingly different take to the constructs and visions of human kind today.
A good example is Gene Roddenberry, who described a deeply humanistic, almost socialistic hypothetical future in which money or the acquisition of wealth no longer plays a role.
“The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”― Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Roddenberry's take on the future is that humanity has turned to building and forming communities that thrive and grow through exploring and encountering new worlds from which to learn and share. I think about that a lot and try to integrate this in my worlds.
What are systems of beliefs for you?
Religion, sects and political ideologies, same old, same old.
People’s beliefs have always fascinated me.
How and to what extent belief in a thing, a person, an idea, religion or sect can socially form, lure, and ultimately manifest itself.
The new age generation move on social media platforms, a mighty modern day system that strongly influences and affects individual beliefs.
With an idea, no matter how absurd, you can find others who believe in you.
With today’s technology, and the right follow-ship, you, as an individual, can turn anything into a system of belief.
Let’s make a religion out of it!
What sparks your creativity?
A sentence in a book, a scene from a science fiction series and movies, a tick tock video my son shows me, discussions on social media, browsing through my library of images from ancient sculptures and cave paintings, then something magical happens, and I cant wait to go work again.
There are days where the impressions overwhelm me.
A seemingly endless candy store of ideas.
You can taste that and taste this, some taste so good you become addicted, and some you spit out and others you ignore, because they just don’t look tasty at all. (That, by the way, is also my analogy on social media.)
What is your relationship to Instagram?
Foremost Discovery and Freedom.
Freedom to market myself with or without a gallery.
Discoveries and connections globally with like-minded.
It's incredible to have access to other artists, galleries, museums, events, exhibitions, inspiration, information, news, updates, and anything else you can think of when I am in the mood for it.
Instagram is this awe-inspiring mega archive for me to explore.
It never developed into an addiction.
I have a pretty chilled set up that I follow, sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less.
Past and how that formed you as an artist
You started off doing photography studying at the University of Applied Arts and also studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. When did you decide to move away from photography?
I was very young, and my introduction to photography was my gateway drug into the art world.
It did not take me too long until I realised that not only is the medium very expensive, especially for a young art student, but it also felt unsatisfactory at one point.
I felt I was missing out on important steps, I never felt completely part of the whole procedure.
Having someone else developing my films, someone else printing, I felt like I was losing out. It just didn’t feel right to me, not enough.
That frustrated me.
I concluded that photography no longer mattered to me.
Over the next years, feeling disillusioned, I started doing mostly other things until I finally came to realise that to find my genuine medium, I would have to find something that truly matched who I am.
I explored working rough, feeling textures, exploring and enjoying the smell of paint and fresh sawed wood.
I explored making my own canvases, frames, painted like crazy and built sculptures.
When I touched upon that, that’s when I found my path.
You come from a small village in the southern part of Styria. Did you know then that you would follow a career in the arts?
Far from it. It was non existent, at least not in any obvious way.
What I knew, though, was that I would not lead an ordinary life, and it was also extremely clear to me that the moment an opportunity rose to leave this small community, I would grab it.
Even though I have a wonderful family and my parents have always been incredibly supportive, I urgently felt a need to go on an adventure and I wanted it to begin as soon as possible.
As luck would have it, when I was 16 my uncle offered me an internship as a cook at this really fancy restaurant near Salzburg and I was off.
A large door had just opened.
I knew that as an accomplished cook I could one day travel the world.
Long story short, I learned, I became a cook; I travelled the world and then I had my epiphany moment and since then I have acknowledged that I am an artist at heart.
You took some years off from the arts, why? What did you do instead?
As I mentioned before, photography was not my true calling and my wife really wanted to open a cafe and with my background as a professional cook, I decided why not? Could be fun.
That short project lasted an unexpected 8 years and even though a long time, it gave me the space to figure some things out.
When we finally closed the Cafe, I sold all my cameras and turned the space into my studio where I paint and sculpt and am constantly experimenting.
I am no longer full of doubt, well a few times here and there, but I presume that’s normal for most artists.
I try to stay as faithful to myself as I can.
I make art primarily for me, working on ideas and concepts that appeal to me, and this acceptance and change has helped me grow and attract new followers, new collectors and a new valuable strong base of new partners and friends and for that I am grateful.
You are so multifaceted, what medium would you like to explore more in the future?
I am not sure, these things happen kind of accidentally.
It can happen that I am entranced by a medium, but when I work with it I don’t feel any kind of connection, so I move on to similar material forms, trying by doing I guess.
The only thing I know is that once I have the space, I want to go bigger in what ever medium I might be working on.
For now, I am working on smaller works that I turn into one big whole.
I can only work in certain measurements as there is only one medium-sized door to my studio, therefore my larger pieces are kind of like lego, you get the wall sculpture in smaller pieces and you have to put it together, with a description included of course;)
The Yellow Universe grows bigger and spreads. Growing even bigger when I add technology.
I am interested in a world that connects to the Internet. A concept where you live on in the web forever, become immortal, a phenomenon, or not?
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I am working on some new stuff and I am also preparing for two major exhibitions, more to come soon.
Additionally, to my art I am working on my Fortnite skills so I can become a pro.
I want to write a book about Star Trek and economics, and I am working on my ability to be more accurate when I measure so I can build objects that also function as furniture, and don’t turn out to be crooked and lopsided, and not in a good way.
Anything you would lie to share with our readers?
Live long and prosper.