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October 09, 2011

Legato :: Simon Schubert

 Legato :: In a manner that is smooth and connected

by Jenny Doh
Plain white paper is what Simon Schubert uses to create his art. Creases and folds are made on the paper causing shadows to emerge, as magnificent rooms, faces, and scenes come alive. Each piece exudes simplicity and complexity—much like the works of Samuel Beckett—the author who has been the longtime inspiration for this German-based paper artist.
Untitled(large staircase), 2008,100cmx75cm
JD :: How did it begin? Your journey of creasing and folding paper?
SS :: The first paper-folding I did was a portrait of Samuel Beckett. I was trying to make a portrait on different levels. The folds in the paper resemble the wrinkles in the face and the reduction of the materiality and the working process applies to the literature of Samuel Beckett, as well as the fading into white. Beckett remains very important for my work, but there are also other important influences from architecture, philosophy and mathematics. Before starting with paper-folding, I was doing large sculptures.
Portrait Samuel Beckett1,100x75,2009 excel
JD :: Tell me a bit about your upbringing. Was it a home filled with creativity that you grew up in?
SS :: The opposite. I grew up in a boring 70s suburb of Cologne. My father was a tax consultant and my mother was working in a pharmacy. Art and creativity wasn't very important.
Untitled(hallways with mirrors),2010,90x 70 cm ex
JD :: There's something haunting about your works. Perhaps because many feel like empty houses. Like ghosts might appear. Is this your intent? How do you feel that a viewer has this reaction?
SS :: I don't want to shock or frighten people. One of the things that is interesting to me is to find pictures that describe something vanishing or the fear of things vanishing. The thought that everything is always at the point of vanishing is frightening in a way and if you work about this, it gets haunting anyway.

  Untitled(mirrors and mirrors),2010,75cmx100cmexJD :: Have you ever creased and folded colored paper?
SS :: I've tried this sometimes but the color takes away the shadow in some way. I've done some black works and they are very nice. They have a different qulity than the white ones but they are not that special. White paper is my favorite material by far.

Untitled(Erasmus chapel), 2011,100x75cm ex
JD :: I understand that you are inspired by Samuel Beckett, for which reasons I can't fully explain, make complete sense. His works were minimal and complex at the same time, I think ... much like your works. Have you thought of Beckett during your creative process?
SS :: As I wrote above, his works are actually the reason for me starting with the paperworks. Probably the first twenty works had a direct connection to some texts or rooms or images from the texts. Later, other influences became important also, but still Beckett remains an important influence to my work.

Untitled(staircase with figure)2010,100x75cm ex

JD :: Think fast and say one or two words that come to mind when I say ...

  • London :: calling
  • museum :: what's this?
  • paper :: I'm loving it
  • fingernails :: don't chew them
  • paint :: Bacon
  • breakfast :: Ham
  • snow :: Dash
  • fear :: Angst
  • Godot :: Estragon
  • Max Ernst :: Die Jungfrau züchtigt das Jesuskind vor drei Zeugen
  • clay :: Cassius
  • telephone :: no connection
  • money :: to burn
  • America :: NYC
  • Donald Trump :: the most unimportant person to me
  • 1976 :: good year

Untitled(mirrored hallways),2007,180 cm x 125 cmexcel

JD :: When a piece isn't going well, or when you make a crease that is unintended, what happens to it? Does it go into the trash?
SS :: Most of the times, it is lost. Only if it is a very small mistake I can restore the work.


JD :: I'd love to know about your typical day, and the people in your life. What is your day like? Who are the people you interact with? Who do you love?
SS :: I start working when my kids go to school and most of the time I work until the afternoon or evening. My studio is in the same house where I live. My wife and kids are the people I love and with whom I spend the most of my time. 

Untitled(Sternsaal), 2011,75x100cm ex JD :: What is the one thing that you know for sure?
SS :: There is probably nothing you can really be sure of. Everything could be just in your mind.

All images are provided courtesy of Simon Schubert. To learn more, visit www.simonschubert.de.


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That's pretty impressive! Puts my crane origami to shame. Thanks for featuring this.

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