At some point in late 2017, I discovered the abstract, hallucinatory sketches and illustrations by Robert M. Engelsmann. With an online handle as Kaeghoro, the Berlin-based artist seems to craft pieces that resemble dreamlands mixed with polygraph machines. With magazine covers and zine collaborations in the past, as well as future booklets and visions prepared for down the road, I felt it necessary to speak with Engelsmann about his craft, his influences, and how he approaches the white page.
How did 2017 treat you?
Let me point out two cool things in print –
First, I was approached by the editors of Topiary, to be published in their first issue of Stanford University's new literary journal, featuring poetry, prose, essays and visual art. That made me particularly happy because I perceive my drawings, especially the minimalistic lineworks, often as poems, and to be published in this kind of context feels good. Beside my artwork, the first issue features for example also works by visual artists Eva Magill-Oliver and Neva Hosking, which I admire.
Second, Joel VDK invited me to contribute to Roam 4 – Community. Joel says, "Roam is an ongoing collection of comics and illustrations exploring random ideas, thoughts, feelings and general mess," and I liked that mess – so I joined this collaborative zine with 4 artworks on two double spreads. It looks pretty awesome what Joel cooked there for us. The risoprinted zine features also him, Kate Gagliardi and You And Neru – and since you got the booklet, the contribution had lead to this interview :D
While working for the contribution, I created a whole amount of new work – the Roam cycle, Ghosts, ten untitled drawings and my Essence series, so that was a pretty productive session, so I would say Spring of 2017 treated me very well.
How would you describe your art style to a stranger on the street?
Wonderful question – I would say abstract-figurative line drawings, and in that moment when the eyes of the stranger begin to communicate void or before false associations pop out, or I have to create strange comparisons, I hand the stranger one of my small postcards. They were made exactly also for that purpose.
How do you approach a blank paper?
For a flow state drawing, I take my ink pen and just begin – I let the line decide, the line flow – everything creates itself. Rhere are no prior thoughts of composition (nor while the process of drawing) and no hesitation in the movement. Like a force of nature performing its sense – a weather front approaching, transforming and passing by or I am just thinking about the movement of the swifts circling the sky. This is the best state of mind for creation I can think of – flow. Another way of beginning my artwork is to create initial marks and go from there. This can work from – let’s say – two sides: the mark, which can be very experimental, can lead to the creation, and something unexpected and new evolves; or I make marks or a print with a concept in mind – to create in a specific direction, with an aimed outcome. I love monotype and experimental printmaking.
Do you feel your style has evolved/changed over the years?
When we talk about 'drawing' I can undoubtedly say yes – it is a constantly evolving process on various layers, and I think for everyone. it is a little like in video games – Donkey Kong, Wonder Boy :D , while drawing pops up a feeling and you're like YAY, the door just opened – and you entered the next level. But, this is not always like a big thing for others to perceive. On the inside it can be big, but small on the outside. Thinking about 'style', I would like to refer to my blog, where I answered a question about style in drawing and in illustration.
What has been influencing you as of late?
I would like to distinguish between inspiration and influence. Influence is something which really grabs you and moves you into an new direction. For example, this can be the discovery of an unknown artist and new technique this artist uses and you feel that this technique is better also for you to express yourself. There is nothing bad about this, I think this is quite normal and healthy especially when you are at the beginning of your way, but later on your journey, the influence should have transformed to something what is 'you', and the source should not shine through anymore. At this moment, I haven't felt any influences on my work for some time now. Back in the days, for example discovering Egon Schiele or Horst Janssen really made an impact on me.
I talked about my influences in this blog posting:
Inspiration is like food for the creative mind. A lot of arts inspire me and I watch a lot of Netflix, binge watching was made for me. :P
Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro, the whole Marvel series, but especially Daredevil and Iron Fist. Damn, I would love that they create an own show for Electra. Recently Mind Hunters was really awesome, Stranger Things is addictive and they also have great anime: Kill la Kill, Gurren Lagann, Nights of Sidonia, Blame! Other series: Peaky Blinders, Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones...
One of my favorite shows is: Mr. Robot. Comics are always an inspiration, recently: Spinning by Tillie Walden – amazing drawings and great narrative.
Instagram and Tumblr: it really motivates me when I see new posting by my artist friends and other creators on Instagram. The whole culture is constantly in movement, wow. But also speaking about influence in general – veganism, the middle east conflict and SUP.
What's the art scene like in Berlin?
Well, beside that I am an artist living and working in Berlin, I am not part of any art scene here in the city. I am a ghost dwelling through the streets of my hood and places I like in this jungle. Berlin’s diversity – I breath that in and it comes out through my work. (Ghost more like a ninja, not like a zombie.)
Your website says 'years of solitude.' Can you elaborate on this?
That means that I have had shifted my focus primarily to my artwork, and put all social activities. And relationships behind this intent. A part of this is, that I work in creative cycles. They start when they start, and they end when I am done. The process can take days totally committed to drawing. Having appointments or other commitments can be really narrowing and also block the flow. So, currently I am more like a lone wolf. But solitude is not loneliness. I am a person who needs solitude.
What do you have planned for 2018?
Because of continuous asks, I am going to put out a new small series of fine art prints. Currently working on that. Then, because I have only 20 copies left of my last art book, I think i will also launch a new booklet, or maybe a zine. Not sure yet what exactly, but something printed with pages. Then, new artists collaborations are going to be finished in 2018 – one with Toronto artist Diana Nguyen and another with brazilian artist Kaori Nagata, who lives and works in Tokyo at the moment. There are more things, but they are not so clear that I should talk about them right now. I like more to do things and then talk about it. But for big news I have a newsletter, you can sign up on my website. First things happen on my Instagram.
What are some studio essentials?
I have a Bialetti filled with original Starbucks coffee.
What kind of music have you been listening to?
Diana, who I mentioned earlier, introduced Max Richter to me, and his album‚Three Worlds – music from the Woolf works’ is from another world.
Hip Hop: Drake – Views, Beginner – Advanced Chemistry, and I discovered German emerging female MCs SXTN. Because of the soundtrack from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s movie Jack Goes Boating, which features Peace Piece by Bill Evans. I really began listening to Evans and his huge oeuvre, especially the later works. I wasn’t surprised when I then read, that he was the guy at the piano on Kind of Blue...what a genius.
Do you have any advice for visual artists working on their craft?
Never stop experimenting.
Any final thoughts / words of wisdom? Thank you!
Well, since I saw the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time recently, I am now wondering what would happen if Marvin would shoot Sadness (Inside Out) with that special gun? And my words of wisdom would be –