Thomas Rentmeister works with industrially mass-produced domestic materials. He often applies minimalist aesthetics or a poppy readymade-ness, in order to reveal a physical ambivalence in our daily life. His works are tangible and their materials have symbolic connotations.
Residency Can You Feel It?
Interview with Thomas Rentmeister
How did you initially feel about the request for a “concentrate / sample” of the tactile in your work and what was your first idea to process it into a piece?
"Tactility is fundamental and recurring in my sculptural work. Recently, I produced soft ground etchings that made the connection between the printing process and the second-hand white underwear I had used in my sculptures before. The structure of the fabric was pressed onto a soft ground printing plate. This partially removed the varnish and let the acids erode the etching plate. The result was a 1:1 scale print with a very formal and abstract look-and-feel. But if you are aware the origin of its motive – a garment, that once had been worn by a person – you still feel the spirit of this unknown person, though in a highly diluted way. With the residency that proceeded this exhibition, I wanted to advance with this project by adding a new component to it."
How did you start working at Frans Masereel Centre?
"In dialogue with Ivan Durt, the master printer at Frans Masereel Centre, I decided to use digital technology to extend the etching practice I was already working on. We high-end scanned a piece of underwear. The large scale print of the textile structure was transferred through a chemical process onto a big copper plate. In the acid bath a beautiful relief of the texture emerged. The print itself had a certain blurring and blotchiness, caused by the higher quantity of production steps, the digital editing and the enlargement. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I liked it, until I decided to accept those inaccuracies as a new potential of the work."
How do you feel about tactility in the contemporary and (in what way) does this inspire your work?
"It’s good to write and think about tactility in art, but as an artist you primarily have to try it out by playing around with materials, and figuring out new ways of approach. Thinking by doing, in a way. This reminds me of the famous sentence by Joseph Beuys: “Ich denke sowieso mit dem Knie”, which he put on a postcard in 1977. I interpret this statement as a pleading for practical and physical experience.
Especially in times when our life in the ‘real world’ is increasingly replaced by internet activities and digital experience, tactility is a kind of endangered species, that deserves protection."
28.03.2016 - 01.04.2016