It was the summer of 1980 when I was seven years old that I sat in the back seat of my father’s blue Opel Kadett coupé and saw the first smoking chimneys of the German Ruhrgebiet. Those were the declining years of one of Europe’s biggest and heaviest industrial areas and I will never forget the impression it left imprinted on my retina. As a child I rebuilt entire cities including large factories with my building blocks and then lay on the floor to see the chimneys emerge on the horizon. Later I started drawing complete maps with of course lots of space for industrial areas.
That fascination with industry and factories has ever since remained, even though these days – with today’s knowledge – I see things very differently. Most factories in the Ruhrgebiet have been pulled down and a lot of former industrial terrains have been cleaned up and/or have had a change of use. It shows that we, as human beings, continuously build, demolish and rebuild, but still the world is none the better for it. New threats such as overpopulation and the blurring of traditional standards and values through the emergence of the internet are seriously endangering our habitats and have a fundamental influence on life here on earth. This theme plays a crucial role in most of my art. Where for me it started with admiration for all those huge factories and smoking chimneys there now is the realization that mankind should use its knowledge much more to ensure an enjoyable future on this planet for the next generations.
The rapid technological developments make it possible for me to apply new digital techniques in my work. Besides these new techniques I still use traditional techniques and materials like pencils, paint, oil pastels and ink. My way of working also includes building, destroying and rebuilding. I scan paintings and drawings into the computer, cut them into pieces and rebuild and subsequently print them. After that process I can decide to start drawing and painting on the print again. I also can decide to work only the traditional way without using a computer. For me, the choice of medium and ways to edit my materials will always remain a source of experiment that will help me transform my themes into my personal visual language.
Sander Steins / June 2011