Who is Roman Pfeffer?
Roman Pfeffer is a contemporary conceptual artist born 1972 in Vöcklabruck, Austria.
Correction, transformation, irony and condensing determine Roman Pfeffer’s approach to tackling both everyday objects and art.
His works are not centered on a particular medium but playfully move between different genres - sculpture, painting and graphic art, as well as photography, video, conceptual or applied art.
In appropriating the world of art and the art of everyday, the artist operates like a scientist and constructs mathematical formulae, without, however, conforming to rational laws.
When/how did you find out you are an artist, was your family supportive?
I grew up in the countryside, where my father had a small wood working factory.
So, I always had the opportunity to build things: nothing to do with art but a light-hearted way of dealing with materials and a chance to make visible something you had imagined.
I became interested in art through the basics of architecture.
Also, I had teachers at school who talked about rhythm, composition and arrangements and that appealed to me.
Our art history teacher had us draw the entire ancient world.
Through drawing, we learned about floor plans, systems, compositions and forms and thus inhaled art history at a very slow pace.
I only took the step towards doing my own artistic work a few years after graduating.
I had been following a painting class and it took me a long time to figure out where to go from there.
The first works marking the start of my independent work as an artist date back to 2006.
How important has digitalization become for you in connection with your art practice?
Digitalization does not play a visible role in my practice but, in the background, there is always work where it is necessary to use tools such as robots or drawing programs to achieve a precision that would not be possible otherwise.
My work is sometimes very constructive and precision is of paramount importance.
Precession is also about achieving exactly what you have in mind: the more minimal something becomes, the more perfect it has to be.
Do you find that the pandemic has left a mark on you
I was lucky enough to always have exhibitions during breaks in the pandemic, so my rhythm of work was fairly sustained.
The pandemic itself did not have a big impact on my artistic practice.
However, what I notice is that works developed previously are now becoming current, not because of the pandemic but rather because of the climate crisis.
The works on cultivated decorative plants are a case in point: taking rubber plants (ficus) as a starting material, I trimmed their leaves with scissors, turning them into hybrids with the foliage of an oak or a maple tree.
The result was photographed, the picture itself becoming a work of art.
When looking at it, one is puzzled, wondering whether it is an actual cultivation or a montage.
In a way, it is a subjugation of the plant.
If you prune the plant too much, it fights for survival. It is a matter of keeping a balance.
And such a balancing act is always part of my artistic work.
What artwork are you showing for the exhibition?
"Stuck in a moment, 2020" and "Sender, Sender 2020".
It is an installation of lost ski poles that I found in the Silvretta area, in Vorarlberg.
During winter, skiers keep losing their ski poles.
When the snow melts, the poles emerge. These design parts were the starting material for my objects.
Due to the fact that piste equipment is constantly used in the terrain, some of the poles are broken or bent.
I cut them at the point where they are damaged and assembled in pairs, thus creating the work "Stuck in a moment".
Leaning against the wall, a group of spear-shaped objects emerges, that have a common past but also an individual one.
In the work "Sender Sender", the mast, built from ski poles, rises vertically in the air.
The metal cover of a snow cannon serves as a pedestal.
These are anonymous relics of individual adventurous endeavors.
This work is meant to send a message to the original owners of the sticks.
Of course, it is a constructed fiction, the idea being that the lost stick will connect to the former owner.
What are your upcoming artistic projects?
At the moment, I am finishing the work "painted by nature, polished by the artist" for the Vienna Biennale.
I found the stone - quartzite - on the top of the Montafon mountain, some 2443 meters above sea level.
The surface of the stone is like a mosaic, covered with green-yellow to grey lichens.
These natural lichens have a very slow growth of about one millimeter per year.
The largest areas are 5 cm in diameter, so you can imagine how long nature's creation process took.
Some parts of this stone I have exposed and polished, hence the title "painted by nature, polished by the artist".
This stone is placed on an inclined pedestal, which has been balanced exactly to the point of tipping over.
Once the stone is put into place, the work stands securely.
Here again, we have the relationship I mentioned earlier; here again, it is about a balancing act.
On the one hand, we have a relationship between what is produced by nature and what is produced by human, between what has grown naturally and what has been shaped deliberately.