“Fathom the unreal and the dreamlike as well as the deepness of the unconsciousness”
You could say that carving is embedded in the DNA of artist Joachim Seitfudem, even Joachim himself feels that he had no other choice but to become an artist, his life steered in this direction, even when seeking other pursuits. The passion for his work and how he has leaned into his destiny can be seen in Joachim’s sincere interview below.
Joachim Seitfudem was born in Bavaria, South Germany and currently resides in Bristol in the United Kingdom. It is no wonder Joachim holds many accolades and a strew of awards (In 2008 he was announced Winner of the Championship of Wood Sculpture in Southern Germany) since he began sculpting professionally at such a young age. His impressive education and background in his art can also attribute to his success in his craft and the many galleries and shows he participates in around the world. His sculptures are mostly mounted in deep, dark frames, which give the viewer a sense that the sculptures live in their own world, undisturbed by the goings on around them.
His works stimulate melancholic thoughts and show the viewer the importance of living in the now. As a viewer, your mind marvels at the complex scenes before you, so much going on and so much symbolism intertwined in the beautiful imaginativeness of Joachim’s work.
Tell us a little about your artistic background, and your first influences to be creative?
I grew up in an artistic family, my father is a master wood sculptor and my mother was a painter, so the influences started very early. I went to an artist / sculptor college when I was 17 years old and after that, I started an apprenticeship in my father’s atelier and worked there for a couple of years, but I never wanted to become an artist. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an archaeologist, then I wanted to be in the army, then I wanted to be a police officer and nothing worked. Being an artist is not a choice, you have to do it, it’s kind of a sickness that you have inside. This is what I think.
This kind of work demands some manipulation of nature. How much planning or preliminary thought goes into each sculpture? Is there a sketching element for the idea or do you let the “wood” speak to you?
First, I do a few drawings, then I make a model in clay and after that, I start carving. But it is hard to say how much time I put into each piece. Sometimes I have an idea and I work on it the same day and sometimes I draw in my sketchbook and start after a few years, and I’m always working on two or three pieces at once, because sometimes I feel that I am losing the focus on a figure and before that happens I am moving onto another. I really like the process. Quite often, I don’t want to finish the work. I have an idea at the beginning, but it changes all the time, even the material… that’s why I have to sometimes tell myself “That’s it!” Sometimes I hate my work. Once I had this piece for two years sitting in the corner and I couldn’t look at it. I had to get rid of it. Destroying your own creations feels good. You create something, you build something, but at the same time, you want to destroy it.
Seeing an artist like you, a skilled carver, transform a block of wood into an expressive artwork is fascinating. Are the sculptures made from single or multiple blocks of wood, could you tell us a little bit about your creative process? How would you describe your creative style?
I carve almost everything out of one piece of wood, this is how I prefer it, of course in some situations I have to glue more pieces together when I do a “life size’ figure. Describing my style is a bit difficult. It is very personal, but all unique art is personal isn’t it! I would describe it as melancholic, fantasy based and surreal. I try to use my traditional wood sculpture skills and put my own thoughts and technique into it to create the work that I want to think about and that I can’t find anywhere else.
How would you say your surroundings and environment have influenced your work?
Very strongly, particularly 6 years ago, I had some tough moments. My mother died and I went to jail for a couple of months because I was so sad, angry and lost. That was literally the worst time in my life so far and I hopefully won’t experience anything like it again. After that, my art changed completely, I thought a lot about time and how important ‘time’ and freedom and people are. That was when I started to work with clockworks and clock mechanisms. So now, I know it sounds a bit strange, I’m thankful for this experience because without it I couldn’t create the work that I’m doing now. So to me my work is like therapy. I am trying to incorporate into my art all the experiences that I have had so far. Sometimes I like to be melancholic… I know that some people don’t like it, but I enjoy listening to good music, working and being angry, or sad.
I read that you said, “you love to fathom the unreal and the dream like as well as the deepness of the unconsciousness, and to dilate via the fantasy, absurdism and especially the melancholy. You want to stimulate melancholic thoughts and show the viewer the importance of living in the now”. Do you believe symbols play a role in your work? Does a work have an energy of its own or is it the viewer who brings the symbolic meaning to the piece?
Yes, very much so. I work a lot with vanitas symbols (Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of death; watches, and hourglasses, decaying fruit; bubbles symbolizing the suddenness of death; smoke and musical instruments) . So you can find examples in the skulls or a rose (flower) in my work, symbolizing life, death and love. Every work has energy if you put that into it. When I work on a piece I am 100 percent there and let all my feelings out, that could be happiness, sadness, anger, adventurousness and so on… I like to touch people with my art, be it in a good or a bad way. It doesn’t matter as long as it touches them. I am responsible for myself and for the art that I am doing. It may sound very ignorant and selfish, but I think an artist has to be selfish. Not completely, but in a good way.
What is the most challenging part about working with this type of medium?
That it has to be perfect from any side and any angle. And that you have just one try to do it right because when you have chopped it off it’s gone!
You have won a number of awards from the past, what has been your greatest personal art achievement to date?
I always feel so flattered and attached when I win an award and it is always a great honour to see how much people like my work, but the biggest achievement for me is that I still love doing my artwork and enjoying making a living from it.
What would you most like to make that you haven’t made so far?
I have had an idea for quite a while, it is mechanical door that is just huge, with a big story carved into the wood but I don’t want to reveal too much of it now! I hope that I will find the time to start on it one day.
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