Fabian von Spreckelsen, Iron and Rust
German artist Fabian von Spreckelsen artisanal approach to sculpture guides him to create unique and bespoke pieces for Spazio Nobile with a singular identity, using Corten steel and eroded metal.
His studio in Noorbeek, in the South of Limburg near Aubel and the Eastern cantons of Belgium, is close to Maastricht and Aachen, on the edge of many borders. In the context of this treasured region, planted with apple tree orchards, known for its cordials and fruit juice, von Spreckelsen works on his unique and limited edition artworks, striving to reach the full essence of every piece he designs using man-made materials, steel or iron rusted by air or eroded by fire. He recently received through Spazio Nobile Gallery his most challenging commission from a private collector. He talks to TLmag about this process of making that starts with a feeling of emptiness.
TLmag: This bespoke chimney for a Brussels-based private collector is a one-year creative and physical process. How have you experienced it?
Fabian von Spreckelsen: First of all I would like to thank the private collector for giving me the opportunity of making such a large scale object. There are not so many clients who give an artist the amount of trust and confidence to create a new and innovative piece. For both of us the project was more or less unknown terrain. This Chimney will hopefully last “forever”, so we felt there was no rush to make something that is made for eternal use. It all started with a huge cardboard model that I was making at the collector’s home. It was a way to enter into dialogue with the client by showing the imagination behind my vision. It felt like being “pregnant” with a project. Everyday I came to my atelier and I saw the big 1/1 scale cardboard model hanging on the wall. I was looking at it everyday and thinking about how I could achieve something that I have never done before. So many questions … How can I integrate and build it? How can I make it look as “clean” as possible? How can I hide the suspensions on the wall? How can I make it float, having no connection to the ground? The time was needed to spend on this project, to be sure that the abstract form I was using does not become a “fashionable” object that would or could be out of fashion within a short period of time. I needed to be 100% sure that it would fit and emerge within the Art Nouveau building and the collectible objects and art that are part of this ‘ensemble’. I went countless times to the clients place to check if it feels good and the measurements are working. At the final stage of the actual making process, the excitement started to build. After having had the vision in my head for so long, to see it realised and installed was exciting, almost like giving birth to something.
TLmag: Have you integrated all your “savoir-faire” in this fantastic functional sculpture?
F.V.S.: This project is to me one of the most ambitious that I have ever done. It has set new boundaries in my ability to work as an artist. I used all of my experience and knowledge to make it happen. I had reached out to experts for advice but they could not really help me, or said it is impossible. There was not a project like this that I could take experience or insight from. I was constantly pushing myself to go further with it. For example, the inside of the fireplace, which has a reference to the building and time in which the building was made. To create not just masterpiece at the outside but also at the inside where the fire is. Building a “Gesamtkunstwerk”.
TLmag: You are now interested in mastering metal using Corten steel and iron. You also work a lot with fire. What is the essence of your art?
F.V.S.: I create timeless objects that give a certain feeling of clarity and simplicity. Rusted, Corten steel creates an awareness of evanescence and strength at the same time. Steel, which we take from the soil, in the end will go back to the soil. The circle of “life” is closed. Using the elements to work side by side instead of fighting against them. At the moment I have discovered or invented a new sort of steel which underlines the fragility of metal and I am still experimenting it.
TLmag:What attracts you to Japan and their quest for excellence?
F.V.S.: To make a “classic” piece that imparts a calmness to the viewer and peace of mind. Simplicity and emptiness. Clear cut lines that have rhythm of elegance that calm. Japanese masters don’t confuse the eye or the mind, by having too much to discover. They teach you that time is crucial for the making process. Time is a relative figure to produce an object. Show respect to your environment and the material you are using. Make the material your own. Don’t use more than two materials in one object because they could “fight” each other.