In anticipation of Stefan Zsaitsits’ brand-new print release Spikes and Rivets with Unit London Editions launching on Thursday 1st December, we talked to Zsaitsits’ about the inspiration behind this work, the importance of the materiality of drawing and how his established drawing practice and the creation of this print coalesce.
Austrian artist Stefan Zsaitsits currently lives and works near Vienna. After graduating from the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2006, he received several awards, including the Art Austria Award in 2014. His works can be found in international and national private and museum collections such as the collection of the City of Vienna and the collection of the Albertina Vienna.
Zsaitsits is known for his drawings of distinct characters which explore the absurdity of the contemporary subject, oscillating between states of reality and impossibility, with instincts for looking towards oneself, in a total absorption of bodily form.
Unit London Editions: What are your main inspirations behind Spikes and Rivets?
Stefan Zsaitsits: At first, there was the thought of a jacket that works like a kind of armour, the type that knights had, or the protective shell of some animals. One which you can retreat into, take shelter, but also be ready to take up a fight. During the process of drawing it started to look like the jackets of the punks from my youth. I got the impression that this work is more about adolescence and the memory of it – about melancholy dreams and dreams of revolution.
ULE: What themes or feelings span your practice?
SZ: It’s hard to pin down a main theme that could sum up the content of my work. But I think most of the time the works are about the absurdity in life, in-between states, fleeting memories and the contradictions of everyone. Sometimes like the state you are in before you fall asleep. Or the moments when humour turns into tragedy – and vice versa. Uncertain conditions that oscillate between absurdity and rationality, imagination and reality.
ULE: It seems as if your figures seem to take shelter within themselves, in a way which perhaps signifies introversion. What is the importance of your figures hiding or taking shelter in your work?
SZ: I don’t feel they are hiding that much, but more looking inward. It is more about introspection and facing fragments of the unconscious . Some figures would close their eyes to keep focus or calm down. These figures also have the tendency to keep the world out of oneself, to withdraw from everyone and everything from time to time – to be alone with their thoughts. Which is not healthy, of course, but sometimes necessary nonetheless and maybe a way to take shelter.
ULE: What does drawing mean to you and to your wider practice?
SZ: What continues to fascinate me about drawing is its simplicity and directness, with simultaneous manifold ways of expression. In a broader sense, drawing is an important, even organising tool and an attempt to understand the world, myself and people in general. Even if this attempt is probably doomed to fail, I would like to work at least with this failure and tell everyone about it.
ULE: A common thread throughout your work is the lack of colour in your pieces. What is the importance of the monochromatic colour palette in your work?
SZ: I understand the monochromatic nature of drawing and working only with pencils as a more intense kind of abstraction. And I don’t see the lack of colour as a loss, but a gain in possibilities, in choices and imaginations.
ULE: What is the importance of mark-making in your work, and how do you feel this translates to print?
SZ: There was no conscious decision or intention that led to the way I draw. It has simply evolved over the years that I have practised it, and is heavily influenced by the fact that painting was the most practised medium for me during my student years.
ULE: When creating a print, what qualities of the work are most important for you to come through?
SZ: In this case, my approach was to create a print which was as close as possible to the original drawing. And thanks to the qualities of the giclée print and the printing studio, I think we did a pretty good job and managed to publish a print that is almost indistinguishable from the initial drawing “Spikes and Rivets”.
‘Spikes and Rivets’ is launching on Thursday 1st December at 6pm, exclusively via Unit London Editions. View the edition here on our website for all the information on this stunning, irreverent edition.
Spikes and Rivets
Hand-signed and numbered by the artist
Edition of 30
49.6 cm x 70 cm